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Celebrating the Fourth
By KYLA K. WILSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2000
Because of the recent drought and the threat of a countywide fireworks ban, some North Pinellas cities have moved, canceled or postponed their Independence Day fireworks displays.
But plenty of food, games and entertainment are still on tap to keep residents busy on the extended July 4 weekend. Here is a look at area celebrations:
Clearwater is putting on a three-day celebration in Coachman Park that culminates with a fireworks show on Tuesday.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, the city will open Taste of America Food Expo, which will include a wide variety of local restaurants. The next two days will be full of activities for adults and children and live entertainment. The fun starts at 4 p.m. both days.
Well-known jazz saxophonist Walter Beasley will perform at 9:15 p.m. Sunday. Gary Lewis and the Playboys will take the stage at 7:15 p.m. Monday followed by guitarist Mark Farner of Grand Fulk Railroad at 9:15 p.m. The Mostly Pops Orchestra will perform "A Tribute to America" beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m Tuesday. They will be discharged from a barge in the Intracoastal Waterway near Coachman Park.
Terry Schmidt, special events producer for the city, said he anticipates up to 40,000 people on Tuesday.
Admission is free. Those who attend should bring blankets and lawn chairs. Coolers are not allowed on Sunday and Monday.
Coachman Park is on the waterfront in downtown Clearwater. Call (727) 562-4800.
The fireworks display has been moved from its traditional South City Park to the shores of Tampa Bay near Seventh Street S.
"We moved it because of the drought restrictions. Instead of canceling, we shifted," saidPatrick Wojdan, recreation supervisor for Safety Harbor.
There will be two locations from which to view fireworks on Tuesday. Games and activities for families with children will be at City Park, while live entertainment by Soul Proprietor will be at the Safety Harbor Marina at 110 S. Blvd. Food and beverages will be available at both locations.
Celebrations will begin at 6 p.m. The fireworks show will start at 9 p.m. Admission is free. Those who plan on attending should bring a blanket or lawn chairs. No dogs, skateboards or personal fireworks are allowed.
The celebration is expected to attract at least 10,000 people "if not more, because of the fact that other cities have canceled their shows," Wojdan said. Call (727) 724-1530.
The city's July 4 celebration has moved from Taylor Park to Largo Central Park. But don't look for fireworks: Largo has postponed its display to Veterans Day on Nov. 11. A patriotic concert featuring the Summit Orchestra Singers is the planned Independence Day highlight.
"As a city we didn't feel it was a responsible thing to have fireworks. Six days of rain doesn't erase 18 days of drought," said Doug Matthews, marketing and events manager for Largo.
There also will be games for children, food and beverages. In order for children to participate in the games they will have to purchase a $5 wrist band. The band allows them to participate in all the day's games.
Largo's Independence Day celebration usually attracts 10,000 to 12,000, but since there are no fireworks, Matthews thinks it could be less.
"Without fireworks it's hard to say. It could be no more than 5,000. Some people may not want to deal with the St. Petersburg or Clearwater traffic and may want to do something close to home. Those are the people we are marketing toward," Matthews said.
The celebration is free and starts at 5 p.m. Those who plan attending should bring a blanket or they can purchase a table for the concert for $20. All proceeds made from the celebration go to Habitat for Humanity.
Largo Central Park is at the southeast corner of East Bay Drive and Seminole Boulevard. Call (727) 587-6720.
The city's celebration, sans fireworks, will be from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the corner of Edgewater Drive and Main Street. There will be local live entertainment for adults, games and pony rides for children. The city will have its own version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for children.
Arts and crafts booths will be set up, and local organizations and businesses also will have booths.
Those who plan on attending should bring lawn chairs or blankets.
Dunedin was not able to put its fireworks show together in time after Pinellas County lifted its ban. Sara Kissinger, project coordinator for Dunedin, still expects 5,000 to 7,000 people to attend.
"Because it is 11 to 7, they can go somewhere else and watch fireworks after the celebration," Kissinger said. Call (727) 738-1898.
Pinellas County will celebrate the holiday from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m. Tuesday by previewing its newest park, Boca Ciega Millennium Park, at 12410 74th Ave. N. The park is scheduled to open in the fall. The celebration will consist of old-fashioned entertainment from such acts as the Suncoast Swing Gang and the Grapevine Cloggers.
At 10 a.m. there will be a special park dedication ceremony that will include the planting of a tree. There also will be environmental storytelling.
People can bring a picnic lunch or buy a barbecue meal from the Seminole Fire Department. Proceeds will benefit the Children's Burn Camp.
Jim DeLosh, public information specialist for Pinellas County Department of Public Affairs, said he anticipates 300 to 500 people to attend. People are encouraged to bring a picnic lunch. The event is free. Parking is available at Blessed Sacrament Church at 11565 66th Ave. N. A trolley will shuttle people to the park. Call (727) 464-4600.
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