Fireworks are the biggest attraction to each Fourth of July celebration, and there’s plenty to see in the greater Tampa Bay area. From Sarasota to Tampa, the night sky will be lit in a grand display of patriotism.
The area also will offer an assortment of entertaining options leading up to the big fireworks show. If you can’t wait to celebrate, attend the 2009 Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix, which continues in Sarasota through the weekend with boat races, parades, fireworks and other outdoor adventures.
But this event isn’t just about boats. The extravaganza also features motorcycle shows, live music and street parties.
Proceeds go to local charities that support the physical and developmentally disabled.
Parking and shuttle service ($1 each way, children are free) are available at Sarasota High School. For more information, visit suncoastoffshore.org/events.php.
Grand Prix highlights:
8:30 a.m. — The Friendliest Catch Fishing Tournament for the physically and developmentally disabled. Groups will meet at 1604 Ken Thompson Parkway, City Island. Lunch and awards afterwards.
6 p.m. — Baseball and fireworks at Ed Smith Stadium with the Sarasota Reds vs. the Tampa Yankees. Fireworks will be after the game. Tickets are $5.
7 p.m. — Festival Parade of Boats through downtown Sarasota.
8 p.m. — Downtown Block Party and Powerboats on Main Street and Lemon Avenue until midnight. Live entertainment and food will be available. Powerboats will be displayed.
7 a.m. — World Kilo Record Run on Sarasota Bay just north of Centennial Park. The event is until noon. Free admission.
9 a.m. — Motorcycle Patriotic Souvenir Ride. The ride begins at 9:30 a.m. at American Legion Post 30, 4015 Lockwood Ridge Road. $10 registration fee per rider.
10 a.m. — Powerboats By the Bay at Centennial Park, 10 Street, until 6 p.m. with food and live entertainment featuring Deja Vu at 11:30 a.m. and The Cherry Bombs at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Noon — People’s Choice Bike Show in the Van Wezel parking lot. See the best vintage, cruisers and custom motorcycles this side of the bay. Trophies will be awarded at 3 p.m.
5:30 p.m. — “Meet & Greet Who’s in the drivers Seat” at the Boathouse, behind the Hyatt. Capt. Keith Colburn, featured on Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” will be signing autographs. Photo ops also will be available with Colburn and race teams. Tickets are $5; free for children ages 12 and younger.
8 p.m. — World’s Largest Offshore Party in the Hyatt Regency Sarasota Ballroom. Dance the night away with live music by My Friend Scott. Enjoy food and a cash bar. Attire is casual. The party lasts until 1 a.m. Tickets are $15.
10 a.m. — Powerboats By the Bay lasts all day until 9 p.m. Meet Capt. Keith Colburn, check out the boats on display, eat and dance to live music. Admission is free.
9 p.m. — Conclude the holiday with the Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular featuring fireworks at the Sarasota Bayfront Park.
11 a.m. and 1 p.m. — Annual Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Boat Race at Lido Beach between New Pass and Big Pass.
Other area fireworks and events:
Beachhouse Fireworks Extravaganza
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach
Activities: Party; fireworks at dusk (weather permitting)
Music: Caribbean-themed live music
Admission: VIP party packages available, call for more information
Mattison’s Riverside Fourth of July VIP Fireworks Celebration
When: 6:30 p.m.
Where: 1200 1st Ave. W., Bradenton
Activities: Dinner includes barbecue ribs, hot dogs, watermelon, potato salad and other all-American specialities, dancing and fireworks at dusk with VIP seating.
Music: Live music by Democracy
Admission: $49.95 a person
City of Palmetto Independence Day Celebration
When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday
Where: Riverside Park West and Riverside Drive West, Palmetto
Activities: Food, rides, games, community welcome at 5:30 p.m. followed by a salute to the American flag, fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
Music: Entertainment starts at 11 a.m. on the corner of Ninth Avenue and Riverside Drive West featuring the fourth annual Karaoke Contest and Rye Road, KOKO Ray, Big Daddy, Soul Purpose and The Shaman Band. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
Other: The Green Bridge will be closed to traffic during the fireworks display. Free shuttle service and parking will be available at the Manatee County Fairgrounds.
Get Down for the Fourth
When: 5:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Old Main Street, Bradenton
Party on Old Main Street for the Fourth with live music by Rye Road, food and drink vendors and a childrens’ bounce house.
Olympia Performing Arts Center
When: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Where: 512 10th Ave. W., Palmetto
Air conditioned entertainment with a family film at 4 p.m., bluegrass/classic rock concert from 6-8:30 p.m. and an Independence Day Dance Party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sandbar Fireworks Spectacular
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria Island
Activities: Party with barbecue, beer and wine; fireworks at dusk weather permitting
Admission: VIP family party packages available — $50 for adults, $25 for kids; regular dinner service also available
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub Fireworks Celebration
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: 760 Broadway St., North Longboat Key
Activities: Party; fireworks at dusk weather permitting
Admission: VIP party packages available
A Tropical 4th of July Celebration at Selby Gardens
When: 6 p.m. Saturday
Where: 900 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota
Activities: Children’s games, face painting, prizes for best patriotic wear, fireworks on the bayfront. Guests should not bring food, beer and wine. Those items will be for sale at the event.
Music: Gumbo Boogie Band
Other: Bring lawn chairs, blankets
Admission: $15 members, $18 for nonmembers and free for children 12 and younger.
Information: 366-5731, ext. 241 or visit selby.org.
4th of July Extravaganza at The Pier
When: 1-11 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Pier, 800 2nd Ave. N. E., St. Petersburg
Activities: Face painting, George Washington, Fritzy One Man Circus, dance video, drums, the Rays and Texas Rangers game on jumbo screen and 9 p.m. fireworks
Music: Cool Daddies 1-4 p.m. and Save the Radio 5-8 p.m.
Information: (727) 821-6443
Fourth of July Channelside
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Where: Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa
Activities: Face painting, balloon artists and fireworks at 9 p.m.
Music: Live music
Information: (813) 223-4250
Fireworks at the Florida Aquarium or by boat
When: The aquarium is extending its hours to 9:30 p.m. Saturday so residents can enjoy its underwater sights and then have the best seat in the house for Tampa’s fireworks display.
Where: 701 Channelside Drive, Tampa
Activities: For the more adventurous, reserve a spot on the aquarium’s Bay Spirit II for a two-hour cruise. The boat leaves the aquarium at 7:30 p.m. Hors d’ouvres and open bar. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m.
Admission: $10 after 3 p.m. to the aquarium; $50 for cruise which includes aquarium admission, parking, food, beer and wine. Information: (813) 273-4000 or visit www.flaquarium.org.