A lot of people think there’s not much to do in the Bradenton area in the summer. That was probably true years ago, but not anymore.
Here are some of the other area Independence Day highlights for this year:
Sandbar fireworks: The fireworks display at Beach House was canceled last year because of nearby nesting shorebirds, and it’s not coming back this year. But the annual Sandbar Fireworks Extravaganza is still going on, as it has for more than three decades. The Sandbar is at 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria. You can watch for free from anywhere in the vicinity, but for a great view and great experience, check out the VIP at the Sandbar Event Pavilion. Tickets are $140 for adults and $50 for kids. Call 941-778-8705 or go to islanddining.com.
Privateers Parade: A bunch of pirates riding in ships down city streets probably isn’t something that most people associate with American independence. But every Fourth of July, the Anna Maria Island Privateers host one of the most popular events of the holiday weekend in Manatee County. The Privateers’ annual Independence Day Parade is set for Tuesday on Anna Maria Island. The parade is scheduled to get going at 10 a.m. from the south entrance to Coquina Beach. It then heads along Gulf Drive to the Anna Maria City Pier, where it ends at noon.
Palmetto festival, fireworks: The annual Fourth of July Celebration in Palmetto is free and features music by the Oak Ridge Boys. They’ll take the stage at 7 p.m. and shortly after they finish, right after dark, is a fireworks show over the Manatee River. The festival starts at 11 a.m., and there’s plenty to keep you busy all day long, including food and beverage vendors (no alcohol this year, though) and activities for kids. The festival is centered in Sutton Park, and that’s a great place to see the fireworks, but anywhere along the riverfront in Palmetto or Bradenton, especially close to downtown, should afford a great view. Sixth Street West at 10th Avenue West, Palmetto. 941-723-4988, palmettofl.org.
Pier 22 July 4th buffet: Pier 22 in downtown Bradenton will hold its July 4th buffet featuring premium seating during the Manatee River fireworks display begins at 6 p.m. Guests preferring to take the red, white, and barbecue home can order the PIER 22 Fourth Of July BBQ To Go Deal, which feeds four and includes sides for just $54.95. Cost is $69.95 for adults, add $30 for an open bar wristband. Children younger than 12 are $19.95. To see the menu, go to https://pier22dining.com/about/news/55-july-4th-pig-roast-fire-works. For more information or to make a reservation call or visit PIER 22 online 941-748-8087 or https://pier22dining.com/reservations.
Sarasota Fireworks Spectacular: Just after dark on the Fourth, you can watch for free from anywhere downtown including Bayfront Park and Island Park. Take a boat out onto Sarasota Bay for a spectacular view.
“Voices of Freedom”: This is your first chance to see the Choral Artists of Sarasota. You probably know the group as Gloria Musicae, but the name has recently changed. The ensemble’s annual concert of patriotic music is set for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at First Church, 104 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota. Tickets are $30. 941-387-4900, gloriamusicae.org.
Siesta Key fireworks: The 27th annual Fourth of July Fireworks Display is set for Siesta Key. Viewing should be good from anywhere to the south of the volleyball courts and along Crescent Beach (south of Siesta Public Beach), or out on the water.
Longboat Key Freedom Fest Parade: The annual parade begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday at Town Hall, 501 Bay Isles Road. Bicentennial Park will be full of activities, food and drinks vendors and children’s games after the parade. 941-383-2466.