City Commissioner Townsend Tarapani had warm memories of watching the Fourth of July fireworks every year in Tarpon Springs as he was growing up.
Those memories were largely behind his proposal in May to reinstate the city's annual Independence Day display, which was discontinued a few years ago because of budget constraints.
"A town with our kind of history, we've got to have our own fireworks," said Tarapani, 27.
So this year, the show is back. Tarpon Springs residents won't have to leave town to see fireworks.
"It couldn't have been done without the majority of the commission. Ultimately, I think we agreed that it's important to keep the celebration local," Tarapani said.
The fireworks will begin at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Drive in Tarpon Springs. Parking and admission are free. There will be free food and entertainment at the annual Fourth of July Patriotic Picnic in the Park. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday in Craig Park at 1 Library Lane. Entertainment will include a talent show, water slide, watermelon seed-spitting contest and hot dog-eating contest. Admission and parking are free. Children must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, call (727) 942-5628.
There will be plenty of other fireworks displays and Fourth of July-related events around North Pinellas this week. Here's a roundup:
• Hometown U.S.A. — Dunedin will partner with the Dunedin Blue Jays for an evening of baseball and fireworks at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave. The game starts at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, followed by live music from the Greg Billings Band. Fireworks are expected to begin at about 9:15 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (727) 812-4530.
• Clearwater Celebrates America — The city will host North Pinellas' largest July Fourth fireworks show, combined with music, games and a mascot parade. The festivities begin at 5 p.m. in Coachman Park at 301 Drew St. and will include music by the Mostly Pops Orchestra and the Wilsons. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (727) 562-4700.
• The Clearwater Threshers will conduct fireworks shows tonight and Friday night following their games against the Dunedin Blue Jays at Bright House Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road. Wednesday's game starts at 7 p.m., Friday's at 6:30 p.m. For ticket information, visit www.milb.com.
• The city will offer food, music and games for all ages. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. Thursday in Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive. Admission is free and on-site parking is available for $5. No alcohol, coolers or pets will be allowed. The fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
• American Legion Auxiliary Unit 238 is sponsoring Safety Harbor's annual Independence Day parade, which will travel down Main Street and feature cars, floats and music. Admission is free. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Thursday. For more information, call (727) 723-2822.
• The city's Fourth of July celebration will begin at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Safety Harbor Marina, 110 Veteran Memorial Lane. The event will offer live music, food and a family play area. Admission is free. For more information, call (727) 724-1572.
Matt McKinney can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4156.
Independence Day Events
Kiwanis Morton Plant Mease Midnight Run: This 10K race is on a flat, well-lit course out Causeway Boulevard and back with a turn around in Honeymoon Island State Park. Shorter races begin today with a 1-mile at 11 p.m. and 5K at 11:25 p.m. The main 10K event starts at 12:15 a.m. Thursday morning. $8-$45. Causeway Plaza, 2600 Bayshore Blvd., Dunedin. (727) 535-2257.
Fourth of July Dinner Cruise: Board either the StarLite Majesty or the StarLite Sapphire yacht for a 3.5-hour cruise that includes dinner, entertainment and a water view of the fireworks. 6 p.m. Thursday. $75. StarLite Majesty Dining Yacht, 25 Causeway Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 462-2628.
Fourth of July Bar-B-Q: The Knights of Columbus invites the public to celebrate America's declaration of independence with barbecued pork ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers, sides, fixin's and beverages. 4-7:30 p.m. Friday. $9 per person (includes one free drink). Knights of Columbus, 1251 San Christopher Drive, Dunedin. (727) 565-3982.
Clearwater Coin Show: The 2013 show invites everyone with an interest in numismatics to browse, buy, sell and trade in gold and silver, sterling, foreign and U.S. currency. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free admission and parking. Hilton St. Petersburg Carillon Parkway, 950 Lake Carillon Drive, St. Petersburg. (727) 733-3577; hilton.com.
Dunedin Orange Festival: Edgewater Park and the streets of downtown Dunedin come alive with this old-fashioned town festival that includes a green market, family fun zone, mojo cook-off competition, the Miss Dunedin Orange Queen Pageant, a bonnet auction and live entertainment. A $10 tasting ticket includes all participating restaurants. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday. Free; $10 for tasting ticket. Edgewater Park, 51 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 330-4888; dunedinorangefestival.com.
Bark at the Ballpark: Take man's best friend to a ball game to see the Clearwater Threshers face the Lakeland Flying Tigers and enter a pet/owner look-a-like contest, meet team mascots and take part in a post-game run of the bases. Gates open at 5 p.m. Benefits the Humane Society of Pinellas. 6:30 p.m. Saturday. $7-$9.50 humans, $5 dogs. Bright House Field, 601 N Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. (727) 467-4457.
Water Ski Show: More than 100 skiers ages 6-60 perform theatrical water shows similar to those seen at the former Cypress Gardens. All performances include barefoot, jump, ballet, adagio and pyramid acts. Come early and catch the pre-show. This week features a patriotic-themed show. 6 p.m. Saturday. Free. Tower Lake, 130 Burbank Road , Oldsmar. (727) 480-9365. tampawaterski.com.
Orange Avenue: Florida-based five-piece band is best known for Just Refrain, which has been featured on shows for the MLB Network, SpikeTV, TeenNick, and MTV, as well as the Winter Olympics. 8 p.m. Friday. Free. Shephard's Beach Resort, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater. (727) 442-5107.
Alabama: A blend of traditional country music and southern rock combined with elements of gospel and pop music gives the band its successful crossover appeal. 8 p.m. Saturday. $69-$125. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. (727) 791-7400. rutheckerdhall.com.
Botany hike: Join a Brooker Creek Preserve naturalist on July 12 for a two-hour botany hike, exploring plants while identifying wildflowers and trees. Begins at 9 a.m. at 3940 Keystone Road in East Lake. This hike is best suited for adults who should come prepared with cameras and questions. Advance registration required by visiting the website at www.brookercreekpreserve.org.