Whether you're looking for a fireworks show to attend after a day of backyard barbecue, or you're looking to enjoy all-day entertainment and food contests, this year's Fourth of July celebrations offer a wide range of patriotic festivities to choose from.
Highlights include Port Richey's reprisal of the Millers Bayou fireworks show after a yearlong hiatus, which can be viewed either from Waterfront Park or Gill Dawg Marina. The event offers a motorcycle show, food and live music. Start your celebration early with The Shops at Wiregrass' Freedom Festival from 5 to 9 p.m. today. Travel to Tarpon Springs for a kid-friendly afternoon picnic at Craig Park and stay in town for the dusk fireworks show at Fred Howard Park. Or head to east Pasco for Dade City's Sparklebration, which offers a heap of kids activities, a skydiving show, food contests, entertainment and even an Elvis impersonator.
• Freedom Festival: 5 to 9 p.m. at The Shops at Wiregrass, 28211 Paseo Drive, Wesley Chapel. The free celebration includes a bicycle-decorating contest, watermelon-eating contest, Little Miss and Mr. Firecracker Pageant and a fireworks show. (813) 994-2242.
• Patriotic Picnic in the Park: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Craig Park, 5 Beekman Way, Tarpon Springs. There will be live entertainment in the bandshell, including talent show winners and the Salt Water Cowboys band, a kids' water area with water slide, free food, a game area with horseshoes, badminton, volleyball, contests for hula hooping, watermelon seed spitting, hot dog eating, frozen T-shirts, balloon launching, sack races and outrigger rides in the bayou. Bring bathing suits and towels for kids and lawn chairs. (727) 942-5628 or TSRDonline.com.
• Tarpon Springs fireworks: Dusk, estimated to be at 8:30 p.m., at Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Drive, Tarpon Springs. Fireworks will be set off from Sunset Beach. The boat ramp will be closed and the beach will be closed to the public at 1 p.m. Free. (727) 938-3711.
• Star Spangled Bikes on the Bayou: Noon to midnight at Gill Dawg Marina, 5419 Treadway Drive, Port Richey. The Big Ragoo emcees the event, with live music on the Wayne's World Stage. Southern Silk plays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Lost and Found plays from 6 to 11 p.m. A bike show will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Enjoy a great view of Millers Bayou, where the city of Port Richey will set off fireworks at 9 p.m. Food and beverages will be available from several vendors and a Budweiser truck. Bring chairs and blankets. There is no cover charge. No outside food or beverages are allowed. (813) 597-0360 or gilldawg.com.
• Fireworks in the bayou: 9 p.m. at Waterfront Park, 8119 Old Post Road, Port Richey. The city will set off fireworks in Millers Bayou, with the show visible from the park. Bring nonalcoholic beverages and refreshments. Limited parking; first come, first served. (727) 816-1900 ext. 107.
• Sparklebration: Noon to about 10 p.m. at Pasco County Fairgrounds, 36722 SR 52, Dade City. The celebration includes contests for hot dog eating, watermelon eating and watermelon seed spitting, a baby pageant, all-American food, a skydiving show, music, an Elvis tribute artist, a petting zoo, face painting, balloon animals, bounce houses and pony rides. The Large Fireworks Extravaganza begins at 9:15 p.m. Bring chairs and blankets. No personal fireworks, pets, alcohol, food items or coolers allowed. Cost is $5 for adults, free for children ages 12 and under. $5 per car to park. Fees apply for the baby pageant, food and certain kids activities. For a full schedule of events or to enter the baby pageant, visit sparklebration.com. (352) 567-6678.
Samantha Fuchs can be reached at (727) 869-6235 or [email protected]