Today we celebrate Independence Day. Here are your dos and don'ts.
DO see some fireworks today. Here's how:
Do bring an umbrella: For all the rain we've had lately, more is likely in the late afternoon or early evening, with up to a 60 percent chance of showers, possibly accompanied by lightning, according to Bay News 9.
Classic fireworks display: Two of the biggies are Tampa's Channel District and St. Petersburg's waterfront (the Pier is closed, but the approach will be available for spectators). Other big city displays include Clearwater's Coachman Park, Port Richey's Millers Bayou and the beaches, all starting around 9 p.m.
Make it a two-fer: Get more bang for your buck by picking an activity that ends with fireworks. In Tampa, the Florida Aquarium is only $15 after 5 p.m. today and the Tampa Bay History Center is free all day; both have good spots to watch the sky light up. Plus, the theme parks, including Busch Gardens in Tampa, three Disney parks in Orlando and Legoland, have fireworks shows planned.
Make it a date night: Spark some romantic fireworks at the super-buzzy Birchwood rooftop lounge with a barbecue buffet ($50 single, $900-$1,350 cabana/living room packages) and a prime spot to watch St. Petersburg's display. Hulk Hogan's new restaurant, Hogan's Beach, says it will have one of the biggest fireworks displays in the area ($10 cover at 7700 Courtney Campbell Parkway, Tampa). Last Comic Standing's Ralphie May headlines The Cowhead Show's Fourth of July Brew Ha-Ha at 5 p.m. at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg ($20).
For details and more July 4 events, see today's Weekend section or tampabay.com/things-to-do.
DON'T hurt yourself or someone else. Some cautions:
Don't be careless with fireworks: According to federal officials, 60 percent of all fireworks injuries occur around the Fourth of July. Even small fireworks can be dangerous, especially for children. (Sparklers, for example, burn at about 2,000 degrees.) Firefighters also say more than 50 percent of fires on the holiday are related to fireworks. Have quick access to water, never have any portion of your body directly over a fireworks device, and move back a safe distance immediately after lighting.
Don't shoot guns into the air: Bullets that go up will come down. Every year, law enforcement warns of the dangers of "celebratory" gunfire. In the past two years, at least four people in the Tampa Bay area were injured by falling bullets around holidays, including the Fourth of July.
Don't be careless on the road and in the water: Law enforcement will be out in full force patrolling roads throughout the weekend. If your destination includes a pool or the beach, remember to watch children at all times, and don't swim or boat while intoxicated. Federal officials say there is typically a spike in pool drownings and near-drownings on the Fourth. If it's windy, be aware of the possibility of rip currents at the beach.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne and Kameel Stanley, Times staff writers