Of Spectators and Celebratory Munitions



Independence Day weekend has arrived, and no matter where you are or what your pleasure happens to be, chances are there’s something going on over the next few days to pique your interest and get you out of the house. Between barbecues and boat races. midnight block parties, live bands and the thunder of fireworks, brace yourselves and strap in. It might get loud.

Ease into the celebrations at Marina Jack, where the Dining Room and Deep Six Lounge will both be featuring a celebratory three-tier menu dining experience beginning at 4:30pm, and local band Kettle of Fish will perform in the Blue Sunshine Patio beginning at 6pm. For those looking to get out on the water, the Marina Jack II will be setting out on a cruise from 6:30-8:45pm, complete with buffet and drinks and returning in time for the Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular, courtesy of Zambelli Fireworks, at 9pm, .

“We love putting these events on for the public,” said Kathryn Wilson, public service manager for Marina Jack. “It’s a community event and just bringing people down to the Bayfront is always a great time." For those just looking for a spot to watch the fireworks, Wilson recommends City Park, where spectators can lay out towels and chairs to make their own little nook. “But there’s really not a bad spot downtown,” she added.

A quick jaunt down Tamiami Trail, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens whips up a little patriotic spirit of its own with the All American Barbecue from 6-10pm across the grounds. With live music from the Lauren Mitchell Band, and food from Brick’s BBQ, Polo Grill’s Texas Taco Stand and La Dona Donuts, as well as a kids’ zone including an inflatable obstacle course, face painting and lawn games, it’s the July 4th event “for every generation,” said Roger Capote, director of events at Selby Gardens. “One thing we strive for is a lot of community involvement,” he added, “to bring the community in to see the things we can do.” Between burgers and activities on the Great Lawn—also an ideal spot to watch the night’s fireworks—take time to enjoy the Tom Stephens exhibit and the succulent garden, which Capote recommends this time of year.

For those in Bradenton, the annual fireworks display over the Manatee River, fired off the Green Bridge and drawing spectators from both sides of the river, Bradenton and Palmetto, kicks off around 9pm. “We have a great display in downtown Bradenton,” said Greg Campbell, general manager and executive chef at Pier 22, where the July 4th Fireworks and Pig Roast celebration has been sold out for weeks. “It’s probably one of the most underestimated fireworks shows around. It’s hard to compete with those big boat shows, but every year we seem to be piling in 10-20,000 people.”

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