ALACHUA ‒ For 20 years the City of Alachua hosted an annual July 4th celebration they billed as the “Largest Small Town Fireworks Display in America.” The event was so popular that it attracted up to 25,000 people, two and a half times the population of the city. It was an all-day event with food vendors, child activities, games and several bands through the course of the evening. However, most of the crowd came for the fireworks show which rivaled the size and expense of larger metropolitan areas.
But last year, everything changed due to COVID-19. All mass events were canceled or restricted in size and people stayed home to avoid spreading or catching the virus. The year 2020 was the year that put everything on hold, and the City canceled the annual event due to concerns for everyone's safety.
This year the “Largest Small Town Fireworks Display in America” is back—but with changes. An event of this size takes months of planning and coordination with multiple organizations, vendors and City departments. While the City was in favor of bringing the event back, in January and February, the future was uncertain as the Pandemic was still raging. Given the ongoing uncertainties, the City opted to move forward with the fireworks show and hold off on the other activities.
“We had to plan ahead in uncertain times, but we wanted to make sure the celebration and fireworks show returned,” said Mike DaRoza, Communications and Executive Project Manager for the City of Alachua. “While we had to scale back the daytime activities, we put a full effort into fireworks show, which will be as big or bigger than it has in previous years.”
This year the event has been moved from the Hal Brady Recreation Complex where it has been held in previous years to the adjacent Legacy Park. “This area offers closer parking, a bigger space and viewing area as well as the new amphitheater for the band to play at,” said DaRoza.
The 2021 Fourth of July Celebration will take place on Sunday, July 4, at Legacy Park. Parking will open at 6 p.m. with live music by Crooked Counsel in the amphitheater at 8 p.m. and the “Largest Small Town Fireworks Display in America” beginning promptly at 9:30 p.m. The event will happen rain or shine.
While the event is hosted by the City of Alachua, there are many volunteers and sponsors that contribute to the event, including 26 business sponsors that contributed either services or funds. People attending the show should bring bag chairs or blankets to enjoy all the fun from the multipurpose fields in front of the amphitheater under the stars in a smoke-free environment. Pets and glass products are prohibited.
A time-honored celebration of America’s independence is back.
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