An explosion of July Fourth events in bay area

Happy birthday, America. You're looking good for a 237-year-old. If you're lucky enough to turn this into a long weekend, we've got a long list of ways to celebrate Independence Day on Thursday and beyond. Our event guide helps you find a straight-up fireworks show, daytime fun and places that charge for entry but offer a good date night or family outing for viewing fireworks. Unless otherwise noted, the fireworks start around 9 p.m.

FIREWORKS

Channel District Fireworks

Tampa's Channel District shows its true colors with this Independence Day celebration including entertainment, live music and fireworks choreographed to music. The party starts at 4 p.m. at the Boat House and runs through 11 p.m. Beginning at 7 p.m., 3,500 wristbands will be distributed for access to the wharf for the best view of the fireworks. Free. Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (727) 455-5521. 9 p.m. Thursday.

Downtown St. Petersburg

The fireworks will go off on Spa Beach. A popular viewing spot, the Pier, is now closed, but you can still watch the display from the Pier approach. The fireworks can be seen from most of the city's waterfront parks. Weather conditions may bump up or delay the start time up to 30 minutes from the 9 p.m. show. Free. Spa Beach at the Pier approach, 615 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg.

Clearwater Celebrates America

Features a patriotic concert by the Mostly Pops Orchestra, fireworks, children's activities, music by Radio Disney, a mascot parade, games, vendors, food and drink concessions. Gates open at 4 p.m. Free. Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater.

Madeira Beach Fourth of July Fest

An all-day beach party including concerts, a tiki bar on the sand, food vendors, a kids area with a slide, aqua bubbles, hula hoop contests, a gyrosphere, and a fireworks finale. Free. Archibald Park, 15100 Gulf Blvd., Madeira Beach.

Gulfport's Fourth of July Celebration

The day starts early with a kids fishing derby casting off from the sea wall adjacent to the recreation center at 8 a.m., a sand sculpting contest (11:30 a.m.) and annual auto show (10 a.m.-2 p.m.). A craft area opens at 4 p.m., and the event's live music kicks off at 5 p.m. Parade on Beach Boulevard at 6 p.m. and fireworks at 9 p.m. Times are tentative, please check mygulfport.us for updates. Free. Beach Boulevard, Gulfport. (727) 893-1118. 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday.

Hometown USA at Dunedin Stadium

What's more American than a baseball stadium? It's free admission Thursday to cheer on the Dunedin Blue Jays as they face the Clearwater Threshers in this game with live music by the Greg Billings Band and a fireworks finale. Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. (727) 812-4530. Game starts at 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

Treasure Island: It's a Freedom Thing

Treasure Island's Fourth of July party fills the street in front of Sloppy Joe's with children's activities, food, art and craft vendors, a beer truck and live music by Horses Wild. Fireworks close out the day at 9 p.m. Free. Sloppy Joe's, 10650 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island. (727) 360-4121. Noon-9 p.m. Thursday.

Largo Fourth of July Celebration

Largo gets set to "Light Up the Park" with this celebration including DJ music, activities, food vendors and fireworks. Free (limited $5 parking available). Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo. (727) 587-6740. 6-10 p.m. Thursday.

Safety Harbor

Find a good seat at the marina or the back lawn of the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa and enjoy a day of children's activities, live entertainment, food vendors and fireworks. Free. Safety Harbor City Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, Safety Harbor. (727) 724-1572. 5-9 p.m. Thursday.

Tarpon Springs

After a several-year hiatus, Tarpon Springs brings back fireworks, starting at dusk. Free. Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Drive, Tarpon Springs. (727) 938-3711. 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

Brandon Blast

The Brandon Westfield Town Center Mall's restaurant courtyard will be filled with live music, family entertainment and dining opportunities. The day ends with a fireworks show. 459 Brandon Town Center, Brandon. Starts at 5 p.m.

Plant City

Plant City's family-style celebration features old-fashioned picnic games including volleyball, corn hole and tug-o-war, inflatables, face painting, live music by the Double Barrel Band and Highway 41 South and a 20-minute fireworks finale. Free, $5 parking. Plant City Stadium and Randy Larson Softball Four-Plex, 1810 E Park Road, Plant City. (813) 659-4255. 6 p.m. Thursday.

Dade City Sparklebration Star-Spangled Spectacular

Includes live music, a food court, watermelon eating and seed spitting contests, a hot dog eating contest, sky dive drop-in, petting zoo, bounce houses, pony rides, face painting and a fireworks finale. No coolers, alcohol, pets or personal fireworks. $5, 12 and younger free. $5 parking. Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 State Road 52, Dade City. (352) 567-6678. Noon Thursday. The course's first fairway booms with entertainment beginning at 7 p.m. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Donations to support the fireworks appreciated.

Temple Terrace

Entertainment starts at 7 p.m. on the first fairway of the Temple Terrace Golf and Country Club. Fireworks at 9 p.m. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Donations to support the fireworks appreciated. 200 Inverness Ave., Temple Terrace.

Millers Bayou Fireworks Show

After a year-long hiatus, Port Richey's Millers Bayou fireworks show is back. Viewing from Port Richey Waterfront Park, 8119 Old Post Road. Coolers welcome. Parking is limited. Free. (727) 816-1900 ext. 107. 9 p.m. Thursday.

Bradenton Pier 22 Fourth of July Celebration

Dine directly under the fireworks at Pier 22's Fourth of July celebration with live music, a pig roast, carved Prime Rib, sushi, peel and eat shrimp, raw oysters and barbecue chicken. Reservations required. $49.95, $14.95 11 and younger; tax, gratuity and beverages not included. Pier 22 Restaurant, 1200 First Ave. W, Bradenton. (941) 748-8087. 6 p.m. Thursday.

Tropical Fourth of July

Bring your blankets and chairs to the gardens for a tropical celebration with bayfront fireworks, live music, children's activities and food. $20, $17 members, 11 and younger free. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S Palm Ave., Sarasota. (941) 366-5731. 6-9 p.m. Thursday.

DAYTIME FUN

Seminole's Celebrate America Day

Live music by the seven-piece Ocean Road Band, plus hamburgers and hotdogs. Admission includes your choice of a cocktail or a hotdog and soda. $10. Sandwedge Food and Spirits at Baypointe Golf Course, 9399 Commodore Drive, Seminole. 1-5 p.m. Thursday.

Tarpon Springs Patriotic Picnic in the Park

Wear your bathing suits and bring towels to this old-fashioned picnic with water slides, free food, a game area including horse shoes, badminton and volleyball, Hula Hoop contest, watermelon seed spitting contest, sack races, hot dog eating contest, balloon launching, frozen T-shirt contest, live entertainment and outrigger rides in the bayou. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Free. Craig Park, 5 Beekman Way, Tarpon Springs. (727) 942-5628. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday.

Tampa Bay History Center

It's free admission all day Thursday and they have extended hours. Costumed re-enactors will share hands-on displays of artifacts, uniforms, crafts and music representing the Civil-War, Seminole War, Spanish American War, and WWII,-era soldiers, sailors and citizens. Stick around in Cotanchobee Park for a view of the Channelside fireworks. Free. Tampa Bay History Center, 801 Old Water St., Tampa. (813) 228-0097. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday.

Safety Harbor Fourth of July Day Parade

This short parade down Main Street featuring the American Legion Auxilliary. Free. Safety Harbor Main Street Parade Route, Main Street and Second Avenue N, Safety Harbor. (727) 723-2822. 10 a.m. Thursday.

DATE NIGHT / FAMILY OUTINGS

The Cowhead Show's Fourth of July Brew Ha-Ha

Comedian Ralphie May headlines the celebration, with classic barbecue, fireworks, and live music from Pitbull Toddler. May parlayed his run on Last Comic Standing to become one of the most popular touring comics in the country. In the process, the Tampa Bay area has become a second home to him after his near-fatal bout of pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs in 2011. He spent six weeks recovering at Tampa General Hospital and at his in-laws' house in Sarasota. Known for his hip-hop brand of comedy, he's not shy about taking on touchy subjects or ethnic jokes to point out society's hypocrisies. $20. Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7832. 6 p.m. Thursday.

Birchwood Fourth of July

The Canopy rooftop lounge hosts it's first Fourth of July party with a stunning view of St. Petersburg's fireworks and an all-you-can-eat barbecue buffet. Cabanas and the living room are available for rental. $50 single, $900-$1,350 cabana/living room packages. The Birchwood, 340 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 896-1080. 5 p.m. Thursday.

Hogan's Beach July Fourth Weekend

Retired wrestler Hulk Hogan hosts a giant party with a live radio broadcast, DJ dancing and one of the biggest firework displays in the area (Thursday), a concert by '90s grunge-rockers Soul Asylum (Friday) and an old school party with Young MC (Saturday). $10. Hogan's Beach , 7700 Courtney Campbell Causeway, Tampa. (813) 281-8900. Noon Thursday, 3 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday.

Tampa Bay Rowdies

Stick around and throw a blanket on the field to watch the city's fireworks display in the distance after the Rowdies play against in-state rival the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. $16-$55. Progress Energy Park/Al Lang Field, 180 Second Ave. SE, St. Petersburg. (813) 287-1539. 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Museum of Fine Arts

Live music by O Som Do Jazz, gourmet barbecue buffet and a prime seat in town for the St. Petersburg fireworks. $45, $36 members (reservations required). Museum of Fine Arts, 255 Beach Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 822-1032. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Fourth of July at the Aquarium

Enter the Aquarium after 5 p.m. for a front row seat of the fireworks, extended hours, family entertainment and all-American themed dinner options for purchase. $15 after 5 p.m. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. 5-9:30 p.m. Thursday.

View the Fourth of July Fireworks from a Boat

View the Fourth of July fireworks on an intimate sunset cruise aboard a 72-foot long catamaran that departs from the Florida Aquarium and returns to the channel just in time to catch the fireworks. Includes aquarium admission. $69, $59 members. Florida Aquarium, 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 273-4000. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Family Funfest at 'American Victory' Ship

Features an American Heroes costume contest, entertainment, drinks and fireworks on the former WWII supply ship. This is one of the closest points to view the fireworks, so plan early. They usually sell out. $12, $7 children, $10 seniors/military. SS American Victory, 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa. Toll-free 1-866-468-7630. 6-10 p.m. Thursday.

Dinner Cruise

Board either the StarLite Majesty or the StarLite Sapphire yacht for a cruise that includes a three course dinner, entertainment and a water view of the fireworks. $75. StarLite Majesty Dining Yacht, 25 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 462-2628. 6 p.m. Thursday.

Fireworks Cruise

Choose from their downtown dock or their satellite dock in Clearwater, then hop aboard and enjoy an open bar, a buffet, entertainment, and a firework show over the open water. $89.95 for adults; $59.95 children. Yacht StarShip, 603 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 223-7999. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Thursday; or Yacht Starship Satellite Dock, 25 Causeway Blvd Slip #55, Clearwater. 7-10 p.m. Thursday.

A Sun City Fourth

Start the day with a pancake breakfast and then at 4:30 continue the festivities with a firework display and barbecue, while the local duo Tito and Debi perform. It's $5 for the dinner at Sun City Center Community Hall, 1910 S Pebble Beach Blvd.

THEME PARKS

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Get to Hollywood Boulevard for the Rockin' Fourth of July celebration at the sorcerers hat with DJ dancing at 6 p.m. A special fireworks show set to a rock 'n' roll soundtrack follows at 10:15 p.m. $90, $84 ages 3-9, 2 and younger free. Disney's Hollywood Studios, Hollywood Boulevard, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 939-6244.

Epcot

With meet and greets with characters decked out in patriotic garb and a performance by the Voices of Liberty. A special patriotic finale, the Heartbeat of Freedom, is tacked on to the IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth lagoon show (10 p.m.). Expect capacity crowds. $90, $84 ages 3-9, 2 and younger free. Epcot at Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639. 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursday.

Disney's Magic Kingdom

Fourth of July expands to an entire week this year with the 15-minute 360-degree Celebrate America: Concert in the Sky fireworks show at 9 p.m. nightly. The Celebrate a Dream Come True parade gets a special pre-show featuring the Main Street Philharmonic, Citizens of Main Street and Walt Disney's historic horse-drawn calliope. It all takes place daily through Sunday. $95, $89 ages 3-9, 2 and younger free. Walt Disney World, 1515 N Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista. (407) 934-7639. 9 a.m. Thursday-Sunday.

Legoland Red, Brick and Boom

Guests don special viewing glasses that turn an ordinary fireworks display into millions of exploding bricks. $75, $65 seniors and ages 3-12. Legoland Florida, One Legloland Way, Winter Haven. (877) 350-5346. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

FRIDAY–SUNDAY

Clearwater Threshers

After the game against the Dunedin Blue Jays, the Threshers honor the Fourth of July with one of their largest fireworks shows this season. $5-$9.50. Bright House Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. (727) 467-4467. 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Holiday Weekend Fireworks Cruise

The 2.5-hour dinner cruise includes a reserved table, three-course meal, DJ dancing and a view of the fireworks at the Tampa Convention Center. $54.95, $29.95 children. Yacht StarShip, 603 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 223-7999. 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Patriotic Family Fun Day

Includes ongoing games of horseshoes, corn toss, croquet, badminton and races, live music by the Barking Dogs, relay races, contests, hand-cranked ice cream and a pet parade. Free park admission. Dade Battlefield Historic State Park, 7200 County Road 603, Bushnell. (352) 793-4781. 4-8 p.m. Saturday.

Red, White and Blue Independence Party

Club Plush invites big beautiful women and big handsome men to wear red, white and blue attire to enter to win a "most patriotic dressed" competition. DJ's Ninjai and Brian B. Johnson play mixed music all night. $5, $10 after 10 p.m. Glo UltraLounge, 8831 W Hillsborough Ave., Tampa. (813) 884-3034. 9 p.m. Saturday.

An explosion of July Fourth events in bay area 07/01/13 [Last modified: Thursday, July 4, 2013 2:43pm]

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