PALMETTO — Fireworks, kettle corn, Italian sausage and lots of live music.
Palmetto knows how to throw a party to celebrate the nation’s birthday.
Sunday, after a morning of heavy rain finally moseyed along, pedestrians had Riverside Park West and Riverside Drive all to themselves for the shindig.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Other than the fireworks, the live music is always the highlight. This year, it was Soul Purpose, Big Daddy, KoKo Ray, Tony Tyler and The Shaman Band on the stage, doing the honors under a giant American flag hanging from the ladder of a North River fire truck.
A few years ago, the same stage was occupied by Manatee County’s own Rick Derringer and his buddy Edgar Winter. The two are now touring with Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band.
In the middle of the afternoon, Palmetto’s Big Daddy gave the crowd everything from revved-up versions of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll,” to the B-52’s “Love Shack” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”
Lead singer Laurie Fetzer said after the set that all of the members of Big Daddy except one are from Palmetto and that it is always a thrill to play before the home folks.
“It’s always wonderful,” Fetzer said. “Palmetto always has the best music and entertainment.”
Sunday’s celebration was very much a family event with many young children present.
Fetzer and her husband, band mate Jason Giacomel, had their two children out front.
And Big Daddy himself, 27-year-old Josh Simpson, a guitarist and vocalist, had his mother, Denise Simpson, in the audience.
“I support the troops and America. I had family serve in Vietnam and World War II. I don’t take Independence Day for granted,” Denise Simpson said.
Engineer Greg Sykes said North River Fire Rescue, which serves Palmetto and Ellenton, brought three fire trucks and a fire boat to the event.
Some of the families who stopped to chat with the firefighters got to check out the fire trucks and some of the firefighting gear.