MANATEE -- There are nearly a dozen Independence Day events that involve either a professional fireworks display or parade Thursday or Friday .
Here is a roundup:
At 5:30 p.m. Thursday at McKechnie Field, 1611 Ninth St. W., Bradenton, the Marauders will be playing the Fort Myers Miracle. There will be live music and fireworks right after the game to kick off the area's two-day Independence Day festivities.
Also on Thursday night , the BeachHouseRestaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, is hosting a $20,000 public fireworks display by Orlando's Creative Pyrotechnics. The fireworks start at dark and will last 15 to 20 minutes. "It's an awesome display," said Caryn Hodge, a restaurant spokeswoman. There is first-come, first-serve free seating on the deck area of the restaurant or event-goers can bring a blanket or chair and watch from the beach. There will be parking at Coquina Beach or at the Manatee County Public Beach and a public trolley will go to the restaurant. The BeachHouse also has a VIP party package for the event
which includes entertainment provided by DJ John Rinell, dancing and party favors held inside its renovated dining room and bar. For VIP pricing and booking: 779-2222.
Longboat Key's annual Freedom Fest Parade 2014 is set for 9 a.m. Friday at Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key. A person playing Uncle Sam will be at the event and children are invited to dress up and walk with him and local dignitaries in the parade along Bay Isles Road. There are no fireworks in the town of Longboat Key.
The Anna Maria Island Privateers Annual Fourth of July Parade begins at 10 a.m. Friday at Coquina Beach, 2650 Gulf Drive, Bradenton Beach. The parade runs the length of Anna Maria Island to Bay Front Park in the town of Anna Maria. More than 100 participants are expected. After the parade, the Privateers will head to Cafe on the Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, from noon to 4 p.m. for live music, food and drinks.
Sarasota Sailing Squadron's Liberty Day Regatta and Family Festival, 1717 Ken Thompson Parkway on City Island will be held 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday .
Palmetto's Fourth of July celebration and free concert begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Lamb and Sutton Park, 1006 6th St. W., Palmetto. The event will feature food vendors and a $5 VIP section at stage front. The main attraction is "American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery, who will sing his country tunes after The Jake Castro Band and goodBye eddie warm things up for him. The rest of the park will be open to free seating. Following the free concert, at 9 p.m., the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto and Manatee County combine to put on fireworks over the Manatee River.
Lakewood Ranch Main Street will host its regular Music on Main concert series event from 6-9 p.m. on Main Street. Smokey's Session will perform, with proceeds benefitting the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund.
Tropical Sarasota Fourth of July begins at 6 p.m. Friday at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, 811 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota. The event features barbecue and ice cream. Fans of the event set up chairs on the grounds to catch the Bayfront Fireworks, which begin at 9 p.m. Cost is $17 for members and $20 for non-members.
Pier 22 Restaurant, 1200 1st Ave. W., Bradenton, is hosting its Annual Fourth of July Fireworks Celebration and Pig Roast, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday .The cost to attend is $69.95 for adults and $19.95 for children younger than 12. For that price, patrons also get seating along the Manatee River for the Manatee County fireworks. Information and booking: 941-748-8087.
The 28th Annual Sandbar Fireworks Spectacular will be put on at sunset Friday by Creative Pyrotechnics at The Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. Fans can park at nearby Crosspoint Fellowship Church, which is only a six-block walk to the restaurant. Many park at other nearby churches or at Coquina or Manatee County public beaches and use the trolley to the restaurant. Free seating is on a first-come, first serve basis on the outside deck at the Sandbar. Some fans bring chairs and blankets to the nearby beach. For $125 per seat, the Sandbar does offer an upscale buffet, complementary specialty drinks, beer and wine, party favors, music and great seating in the Sandbar Event Pavilion for the fireworks. Information or booking: 941-778-8709.
The Annual Fourth of July Fireworks on Siesta Key are launched north of the volleyball courts on Siesta Key. A crowd nearing 40,000 is expected this year. The event begins just after dark. Sarasota also hosts a Suncoast Offshore Fireworks Spectacular, best seen at Sarasota's Bayfront Park and Island Park.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or via Twitter @ RichardDymond.