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Tampa's 'Boom by the Bay' fireworks show expected to draw at least 100,000 people

Attendees watch a fireworks show during a 2017 Fourth of July celebration in the Channelside area in Tampa. [Times (2017)]
Attendees watch a fireworks show during a 2017 Fourth of July celebration in the Channelside area in Tampa. [Times (2017)]
Published Jul. 1, 2019

TAMPA — Anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 people are expected to turn out for "Boom by the Bay,'' Mayor Jane Castor's inaugural Fourth of July celebration.

"It's just kind of like weddings and funerals. It all depends on the weather," Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan said at a Monday news conference about the event.

The Independence Day celebration will include four fireworks displays, all starting at 9 p.m. along 2.5 miles of the Hillsborough River from Armature Works to Sparkman Wharf.

But fireworks won't be the only attraction.

Starting at 6 p.m., there will be food trucks and live entertainment at Water Works Park, Riverfront Park, the Tampa Convention Center and Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. Sparkman Wharf will host a water ski show. Armature Works will have an American Car show starting at 10 a.m. and a hot dog eating contest in the evening.

All six locations are designated viewing spots for the 20-minute fireworks show.

Between 8 and 9:30 p.m., boats are prohibited in the area between the North Boulevard Bridge and the Cass Street Bridge. The city recommends that boaters view the fireworks either near the Tampa Convention Center or the Ybor Turning Basin.

Dugan encouraged participants to text BOOM to 888-777 to receive alerts on weather, parking and changes in the fireworks schedule.
Several garages will be open for paid parking and public transportation will be available. HART, the TECO Line streetcar and the Downtowner service will be free. Users can also unlock a free ride on an electric scooter with a promotion code.

Officials are encouraging spectators to make sure to drink enough water and wear sunscreen. Dugan also suggested that parents take photos of their children in case they become separated.

This is the first year the city of Tampa has held its own fireworks celebration. The event is a signature one for Castor, who has said she wants to "kick off my time in office with a big bang."

The last two year's fireworks shows left viewers disappointed after ending early due to logistical errors.

"Mayor Castor has already declared there will be no thunderstorms that day, so we'll see what kind of pull she has," Dugan said.

Contact Amanda Zhou at azhou@tampabay.com. Follow @amondozhou.

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