“The second day of July 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more,” wrote John Adams to his wife Abigail July 3, 1776.
On July 4, 1776, the first U.S. Congress ratified the Declaration of Independence and we Americans have been celebrating ever since!
In 1777, Philadelphia celebrated the first anniversary with an official dinner for the Continental Congress, toasts, 13-gun salutes, speeches, prayers, music, parades, troop reviews, and fireworks. Ships in port were decked with red, white, and blue bunting.
In 1778, General George Washington marked July 4 with a double ration of rum for his soldiers and an artillery salute (feu de joie). Across the Atlantic Ocean, ambassadors John Adams and Benjamin Franklin held a dinner for their fellow Americans in Paris, France.
In 1870, the U.S. Congress made Independence Day an unpaid holiday for federal employees, and in 1938, Congress changed Independence Day to a paid federal holiday. Major and minor employers soon followed.
Here in Florida’s Nature Coast, there is no shortage of public celebrations to attend. From New Port Richey to Inverness, municipalities are offering fireworks, live music, food vendors, games and fun from Friday, June 30 through Wednesday, July 4.
Following is our rundown of local celebrations, but we make no promises to have them all. If you know of Independence Day celebrations in Citrus, Hernando and Pasco Counties that we have missed, please add them in the comments so your fellow NatureCoasters can join in the fun!
June 30-July 1 – KIAFest Main Street Blast is back in the newly renovated Sims Park in downtown New Port Richey to bring you a grand salute to America’s Independence Day celebrated in true hometown style! Bring the whole family down to the 18th Annual Friendly KIAFEST Main Street Blast and enjoy classic rock music, food & beverages, Beer Garden, arts & crafts vendors, Military Vehicles on display, kids’ games and much more. Friday from 5-10:30 pm and Saturday from noon – 10:30 pm. Friday’s live music headliners are The Black Honkeys and Saturday includes two amazing tribute bands, Natural Wonder (Stevie Wonder), and Never Stop Believin (Journey). Fireworks will be set off over Orange Lake in downtown New Port Richey Saturday night, courtesy of Friendly KIA and Greg Henry Restoration.
July 1 – Scalloping season opens from Aripeka through Steinhatchee! Get out on the water and celebrate our country’s independence with a snorkeling adventure that yields delicious results. You can charter a captain, join an scalloping charter or take your own vessel out into the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and join in this local tradition that is often likened to an underwater Easter egg hunt. However, we recommend planning for a weekday scalloping outing and waiting a week or two because the scallop hunting grounds are very busy on opening weekend!
We will have a full feature article on Scalloping in the Nature Coast next week. Stay tuned!
July 1-2 – The Nature Coast Community Band will perform their Independence Day concert at 2:30 p.m. Saturday is at the Citrus Springs Community Center, 1570 W. Citrus Springs Blvd., Citrus Springs and Sunday is at the Cornerstone Baptist Church – 1100 W. Highland Ave, Inverness. There is no admission charge to either concert.
July 1 – Free fireworks show on the Upicktopia farm, 19125 Phillips Rd, Masaryktown. The fireworks will be supplied by Real Deal Fireworks company, and we are assured that it will be a crowd pleaser. Check out the Masaryk winery, which will be open, and wine and nonalcoholic beverages will be available. Please bring a lawn chair as we have limited seating. Event will be from 6:30-9:30 p.m. No reservations required.
July 1-4 – Skydive City 4th of July Celebration – Come enjoy your extended weekend with some fun in the sun and jumping out of planes! There will be free load organizers, cookout, live music, DJs, Beer and with free load organizers all weekend its sure to be a blast. Fireworks after sunset Saturday (July 1st) right out in the landing area! OneBlood blood drive will be at Skydive City from 3pm-8pm donate a pint of blood and receive a FREE REGULAR JUMP TICKET (experienced skydivers)! Sunday and Monday have lots of activities too.
July 3 – Inverness Patriotic Evening – A fireworks spectacular with free concert in Liberty Park and kids zone in Wallace Brooks park. Free event at 2 adjoining lakefront parks from 6-10 p.m. Food trucks and vendors provide on-site dining and drinking options. It’s a good idea to get there early with a lawn chair for the best viewing location.
July 4 – Enjoy the old-fashioned 4th of July parade at the High Point subdivision, beginning at 9 a.m. at Cortez Blvd. and High Point Blvd. The annual parade includes fire-rescue vehicles, decorated golf carts, horses, antique cars and Scout troops and is free. The parade begins at the High Point bus stop near Cortez Blvd, and makes it way up High Point Blvd to Club House Road. At the the parade’s conclusion, there will be a Posting of the Colors ceremony at the community center, followed by refreshments and a raffle.
July 4 – Sparklebration offers a family-friendly celebration Tuesday July 4th at the Pasco County Fairgrounds 36722 S.R. 52, Dade City. Gates open 4 p.m. Fireworks 9:15 p.m. – Admission: $5.00 adults, Kids 12 and under free. Parking $5.00. Lots of family fun, entertainment and the All-American Food Court. Fireworks show is produced by Zambelli Fireworks.
July 4 – Demolition Derby and Fireworks – Celebrate America with fireworks and fun for the entire family! Come out to the fairgrounds for music, games, a Kid Zone, contests, food, and the Demolition Derby! A colorful and sparkling fireworks display will top off the evening. Starts at 4pm. Cost: Parking: $5.00; Admission for Derby: Adults, $10.00; Children age 4-12, $5.00; under age three, free.
July 4 – Fireworks at Waterfront Park – The City of Port Richey and the Bayou Business Association have partnered to bring an Independence Day Celebration to the newly renovated Waterfront Park on Tuesday July 4th. Event starts at 5pm and food and refreshments will be available for purchase. You may bring chairs, but no coolers please. The fireworks display is at 9pm and there is no charge to attend.
July 4 – Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration – Join the City of Crystal River waterfront at Kings Bay Park for some great music, food, games, beer and wine and Fireworks! This is a free event! The fun begins at 5:00pm and the fireworks will kick off at 9:00pm (weather and time permitting). The best place to see the show over the water will be from Kings Bay Park.
If you know of additional area celebrations, please post them in the comments for our fellow NatureCoasters to enjoy. Please remember that many of these events suggest you bring your own chair and many do not allow you to bring coolers and/or drinks and food. Please be considerate of pets and their innate fear of fireworks and loud popping things.
Now get out there and have a good time remembering how great is to be an American.