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The definitive guide to Pinellas County Fourth of July fireworks and festivities

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

What’s the Fourth all about here in Pinellas County?

At heart, it’s about the same thing here as it is all across the Land of the Brave. Food and fireworks. And community and national pride and patriotism, of course. But mainly fireworks, right? Fireworks and celebration anyway. So we’ve amassed a list of all the best spots in Pinellas County to experience these great American summer holiday themes. So go forth, be merry, and remember the words of Benjamin Rush, one of our country’s great, forgotten Founding Fathers:

“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.”

Downtown St. Pete               

Downtown Waterfront, St. Petersburg

8:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.

stpeteparksrec.org

727-893-7441

St. Pete’s once again doin’ it big for the 4th. Fireworks will be blasting off above the downtown waterfront come 9 p.m. Saturday. They could actually start as early as 8:30 and as late as 10 though, due to weather, so keep that in mind. The action should be nicely visible from the city’s downtown waterfront parks — from Flora Wiley Park in Old Northeast, to Lassing Park in Old Southeast. The prime vantage points will be closer to the pier though, like Vinoy, Albert Whitted, North Straub, Spa Beach and South Straub Parks.

The “light show” as the city’s website refers to it, is being sponsored by HCA West Florida Pinellas County Hospitals. Rumor has it will be cashing in on a portion of its mother company’s June 25 8.8 percent stock share increase to light off a set of Japanese Katamono fireworks that explode into the facial likeness of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Largo

Largo Central Park, 101 Central Park Drive, Largo

6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

largo.com 

727.587.6775

Largo thinks they have one of the area’s best Fourth of July firework displays each year. They’ll be popping off some big ones this Saturday around 9 to 9:15 p.m. from Largo Central Park.

A gathering of patriotic Americans will precede the show, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be food, entertainment and activities for kids, adults and in-betweens. It’s free admission, but if you want in on the “activities,” you’ll have to drop $10 for a wristband. Or you can opt to just pay $5 and decorate a t-shirt.

Humans of all sorts are also welcomed to take part in a watermelon-seed-spitting contest, as well as a pie-eating contest. Rumor has it Davie Lardass Hogan is coming out of retirement for one last barf-o-rama.

Parking is $5, or free if you want to use the lots at Largo Middle School or Everest University and walk from there.

St. Pete Beach                       

Upham Beach, 6850 Beach Plaza

Begins just after Dark

stpetebeach.org

727.363.3245 or 727.367.2735

Watch from anywhere along St. Pete Beach and you’ll be able to see the show. But the closer you get to Upham Beach, the bigger life will feel, cause that’s where the blasts are going off. They’ll be starting just as the summer sky goes dark. All normal beach and parking ordinances will be in effect. The Upham beach entrances will close to the public by 6 p.m.

Clearwater    

Coachman Park, 301 Drew St.

4 p.m. – whenever the party stops

visitclearwaterflorida.com

727-562-4700

Clearwater’s Coachman Park will be reppin’ the red, white and blue this Saturday with food, fun, concerts and explosives. The largest explosives in the Tampa Bay area, they claim. “Spark the Sky” firework show is the official title. Be not afraid however, the night’s a fun-for-all-ages type of ho-down.

Fireworks start popping at 9:30 p.m., but event gates open at 4 p.m. Kid fun goes from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature things like the Nomad Art Bus, a performance by Artz 4 Life Academy, a mascot dance off, a DJ, face painting, crafts and games. The music starts bumpin’ at 7:30 p.m.

“Clearwater Celebrates America” is the party’s title, and to keep it real, the festivities will include a live-reading of the Declaration of Independence. Rumor has it that Michael Winslow will be providing sound effects during the Preamble.

Treasure Island

Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Boulevard

9 p.m. on

mytreasureisland.org

727-547-4575

Let’s not forget about Treasure Island, the little runt of a barrier island city with only 1.6 square miles of land. Their Independence Day fireworks will kick-off at 9 p.m. The mortars are set to fire from the beach behind Gulf Front Park, across from Publix.

Public parking will be available in the Allied Specialty Insurance parking lot as well as the Treasure Island Community Center Park — 104th Avenue & Gulf Boulevard — for $15. Metered parking spots won’t be too far away either.

Tarpon Springs

Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Drive

Starts at about 9 p.m.

ctsfl.us 

727-938-3711

Beautiful Tarpon Springs is advertising for a 2015 Fourth of July firework smash. Sunset Beach will play host to the show, which is slated to blast off around 9 p.m. and last for about 20 minutes or so.

Access to Sunset Beach on the 4th will be sparse though, so save the tan for another day.

The north side of the beach and the boat ramp will be closed all day, while the south side will only be open to the public until 11 a.m. Though the causeway will stay open ’til 2 p.m.

Howard Beach will have free parking after 6 p.m. And Howard Beach Park has long been known to have the best views of the spectacle.

Madeira Beach

Archibald Park, 15100 Gulf Blvd.

3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

madeirabeachfun.com

(727) 392-0665

Madeira Beach is bringin’ it this Fourth of July. To emphasize the point, they’ve crafted themselves the longest combined-event-title so far this year: ROC’N The Park Music Festival and Fireworks Spectacular in the Park.

The jams start out at 3 p.m. with some live sets from groups like Full Throttle Drive, The Bearded Brothers and The Black Honkeys. A DeLosa’s Pizza eating contest will be held between bands. The powers that be are asking that you not bring coolers, though lawn chairs are cool. Food and beer vendors will be on-hand to make-up for the no-cooler law.

The official fireworks will start popping off at 9:30 p.m. VIP seating will be available too ($50 per person or $75 for a couple), which includes access to AC, private restrooms, free food and Beer, and prime fireworks viewing real estate.

Busing from Madeira Beach Fundamental School will be available all day

Safety Harbor

Safety Harbor City Marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane

Between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m.

cityofsafetyharbor.com 

813-230-9254

Safety Harbor is making a push for the busiest Fourth of July celebration in Pinellas County.

A 10 a.m. American Legion Auxiliary sponsored parade gets the ball rollin’. Patriotism is the logical theme for the day, so don some red, white and blue for the floats.

Just after the parade comes a free and spirited Independence Day gathering at the gazebo in John Wilson Park — 401 Main Street. Live “patriotic music” will mellow the mood and some “patriotic wristbands” will be doled out free of charge as well. There will also be an opportunity for drill team photos, free cookies, juice and water during the 45-minute gazebo ceremony. But the hands-down most exciting Safety Harbor Fourth of July feature has to be the scheduled appearance by a little known troupe called the Santa Claus Drill Team.

The firework fun begins at 5 p.m. The best seats for hungry eye-balls will be at the marina, 110 Veterans Memorial Lane, or Waterfront Park. The real explosions will go off at 9 p.m.

Bayshore Drive will be closed Saturday from Iron Age to Main Street between 3:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. to make room for the day’s festivities.

Belleair Bluffs

Belleair Bluffs Community Center and Park, 2747 Sunset Blvd.

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

belleairbluffs.org

(727) 584-2151 or (727) 686-8797

Just a picnic, how’s that for a nice change of pace? Belleair Bluffs has one planned from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for this Independence Day, or the 239th birthday of the United States.

You’ll have to get there by 10:30 a.m. if you want in on the desert contest — dish in hand.

But if you’re just looking to get heckled by a few Belleair Bluffs town commissioners, head over to the dunk tank at some point during the fun. Maybe you can make a clever lame duck joke if you send one swimming.  Festivities are open to all.

For the kids: a bounce house, hot dogs, hamburgers, a raffle, and a chance to get up close and personal with a legit fire truck. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will be around for child fingerprinting too.

Kenneth City

54th Avenue N and 62nd Street / Kenneth City Community Hall, 4600 58th St. N

11 a.m. on

kennethcityfl.govoffice2.com 

727-498-8948

Kenneth City, less than a single square mile of town. What’s great about it? At least one thing: their Fourth of July parade. It breaks free at 11 a.m., starting out at 54th Avenue N and 62nd Street, then churning proudly eastward down 54th, and eventually southbound on 58th street, just before ending up at a temporarily annexed Kenneth City Community Hall, where the celebration continues.

If you’re driving there, know that northbound 62nd Street, between 46th and 54th Avenues; 54th Avenue, between 62nd and 58th Streets; and 58th Street, between 46th and 54th Avenues, will be closed before and during the parade.

Gulfport

All over Gulfport; fireworks from the pier

All day; fireworks at 9 p.m.

mygulfport.us/july-4th 

(727) 893-1118

Gulfport, the Gateway to the Gulf, can definitely make the case for having the most diverse Independence Day celebration.

Things flop out the boat during the Gulfport Municipal Marina’s Fishing Derby. Registration starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Recreation Center field. Fishing off the seawall lasts from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Rumor has it that the last place finisher has to eat a boiled sail cat.

There’s also going to be a family sand sculpture contest on Gulfport Beach, from 10 a.m. to noon, followed by a Kidzone! take-over, which goes until 5 p.m.

Maggio and Friends will be jammin’ on the Casino outdoor stage from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. And some food, arts, crafts and vendors to sell it all will be open throughout the downtown waterfront district from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The big attractions though: the parade on Beach Boulevard at 6 p.m. — after which official welcomes from the mayor of Gulfport as well as from members of Gulfport’s city council will ensure — and the 9 p.m. fireworks display. And the fireworks display in Gulfport gets personal oversight from City Manager Jim O’Reilly each year, so expect some quality combustion.

Dunedin

Causeway Shopping Center (intersection of U.S. Alt. 19 and Curlew Road) and Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, 373 Douglas Avenue

June 3 at 11 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

kiwanismidnightrun.com   and milb.com/index

(813) 833-5511 and (727) 733-9302

The annual Kiwanis-Virginia Street Dermatology Midnight Run is set for July 3 and early July 4. in Dunedin. Dunedin-ites have celebrating the birth of our country by running until their hearts explode for the past 36 years. Yikes. Over 2,500 runners and walkers are gearing up for this year’s Midnight Run, which actually consists of three events: a 1-mile run-or-walk set to begin at 11 p.m., July 3; a 5K race that starts at 11:25 p.m., July 3; and a 10K which gets underway at 12:15 a.m., July 4.

The Causeway Shopping Center at the intersection of U.S. Alt. 19 and Curlew Road will act as the staging area for each race.

For anyone who’d rather cut loose for the Fourth, check out the Dunedin Blue Jays July 3 ball game against the Brevard County Manatees. It starts at 6:30 p.m. and admission’s free (though you still have to grab tickets at the box office). A 20 minute firework show will go off after the game, followed by some live music by the Greg Billings Band.

And yes people, you read this last Fourth of July write-up right, Dunedin is doing almost all of their cool Independence Day stuff on the third of July, not the Fourth (note the capitalization differences between third and Forth). All complaints can be sent directly to the mayor’s office.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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