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Pop GOES THE FOURTH

In Clearwater, John and Mary K. Wilson will sing patriotic songs. In Safety Harbor, Spritz the Clown will paint flags and stars on young faces. In Dunedin, residents will eat hot dogs at a beach bash on Honeymoon Island.

And when darkness blankets the sky at about 9 p.m., fireworks will light it up again from Largo to Tarpon Springs.

Today is the Fourth of July, and five mid and north Pinellas cities are doing it up right with lots of free entertainment.

"This is our biggest event," said Clearwater's Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunbar of Clearwater Celebrates America. "The park will be full on Friday."

Clearwater Celebrates America, a two-day event which began Thursday with a performance by Don McLean (American Pie), draws about 30,000 people annually.

The festival closes tonight with "the biggest and most spectacular fireworks in Tampa Bay," set off from a barge in the Intracoastal Waterway, Dunbar said.

"Every year we try and do it bigger than the year before," said Dunbar. "We think people appreciate it."

Farther north, fireworks will be shot off from the Tarpon Springs Golf Course and will be "visible from most of the southern half of the city," said the city's fire marshal, Rick Butcher.

A good place to watch them is along Whitcome Boulevard on Spring Bayou.

Free parking will be available at the golf course lot, at Sisler Field, and on a grassy area off the southbound lane of Alt. U.S. 19.

"People will be allowed on parts of the golf course," said Butcher. "We encourage them to bring a blanket or lawn chairs."

In Safety Harbor, the entertainment begins at 6 p.m. There will be a concert by the Barracudas, balloon art, barbecue sandwiches and fruit smoothies at the Safety Harbor Marina at 110 Veterans Memorial Lane.

At the same time, and within walking distance at the Safety Harbor City Park at 940 7th St. S, a DJ will play music, hamburgers will be sold and Spritz the Clown will paint faces.

Dunedin's Hometown USA, which began Wednesday with a children's parade, a concert at Dunedin Stadium and the 24th Kiwanis-Mease Midnight Run, continues today with the Rotary Beach Bash from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Honeymoon Island State Park.

From 10 a.m. to noon, a steel drum band will perform, and at noon, singer Alias Julius will perform. After that, karaoke contest winners will sing.

Other activities include a Blue Jays pitching machine, arts and crafts, a rock climbing wall and a water slide. Admission is $5 per car.

At dusk at Taylor Park in Largo, at least 10,000 people are expected to turn out to watch the city's annual fireworks display.

"They are shot off from a barge in the lake in the middle of the park," said Krista Pincince, special events coordinator. "We encourage everyone to bring a picnic."

_ Eileen Schulte can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or schultesptimes.com.

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