BRADENTON -- The renovated Bradenton Riverwalk on Thursday night hosted thousands who had a great view of fireworks shot over the Manatee River.
People sat in folding chairs or blankets or simply stood as they watched the fireworks show, which was launched from across the river in Palmetto.
Life-long residents and friends Danielle Borden and Stephanie Huffman stood and sipped on soda as they watched the show. The two friends, who also brought their daughters, came to the Riverwalk after eating dinner at a restaurant downtown.
"It is a great, I think it's wonderful actually to watch the fireworks from here," said Borden. "It brings a lot of different people together."
Huffman remembers when there was nothing on the Riverwalk and few people came to watch the Independence Day fireworks.
She said years ago people would line up and down the Green Bridge to view the fireworks.
"It was really kind of difficult, you couldn't sit there for hours and hours," said Huffman.
"This wasn't developed at all. People probably stayed away from this area at night," Huffman said, laughing.
They two said they come to the Riverwalk daily. Borden said the added attractions are a huge improvement to the Riverwalk.
"They've done so much to this downtown area. It makes us proud to be from Bradenton," said Borden.
Many proud people packed the Riverwalk to watch and socialize. Although The city of Bradenton didn't have formal plans for the Fourth of July, they did prepare for the large crowd.
There were extra portable toilets for people to use. Five food vendors set up to capitalize on the large crowd. Police also helped direct traffic and patrolled the Riverwalk.
For Bradenton couple Neci Joseph and Turk Hicks, this was the perfect date night. They came out without their children to enjoy a romantic evening.
"We come out here every year," said Joseph, who liked the ambiance of the Riverwalk.
"It's a way to get away and to get a good view of the fireworks," said Hicks.