Tampa, St. Pete & Clearwater Compete for Best July 4th Fireworks Display


The events and descriptions below were compiled by Tampa Bay Times entertainment and events reporter Sharon Wynne. To check out all of the weekend events courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times, click here.

July 4th Celebrations

Thursday is Independence Day and there are loads of parades, festivals and fireworks. St. Petersburg has a music app to go along with its fireworks this year, Tampa will have four displays along the waterfront and Clearwater claims to have the largest fireworks show in the area. Plus, there are parades and picnics aplenty. Click Here for a complete list of all the July 4th events and fireworks in the Tampa Bay area, sorted by county.

Click Here if you just want a list of where the fireworks are.

While we are at it, can we all agree to some ground rules? This etiquette expert says we should blow stuff up on July 4 ONLY, observe a curfew and stay sober. 


Hugh Jackman:  It feels like an understatement to call Hugh Jackman a song and dance man — he was, after all, Wolverine — but when you get down to it, that might just be who he is inside. When you consider he starred in The Boy From Oz on Broadway, Les Miserables and especially The Greatest Showman, he’s arguably one of the great all-around talents of his day. He is one Oscar away from an EGOT. So when you look at it that way, why shouldn’t Jackman go on a big, gaudy tour, singing songs from Oz and Les Miz and Greatest Showman and whatever else strikes his fancy? Tickets for this one have been hot sellers since Day 1, so if you see one on sale, snag it up. $61.25 and up. 7 p.m. Friday. Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500. amaliearena.com


Rays vs. Yankees: What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend than with the New York Yankees? The Bronx Bombers come to the Trop for a four-game series to close out the first half of the season before the July 9th All-Star Game. The games, times and holiday specials:

  • Thursday (5:10 p.m.): The Independence Day events include the U.S. Central Command Rappel Team dropping down from the Trop’s catwalk to deliver the game ball. CENTCOM also will present the colors for the National Anthem. Ticket specials include $15 200-level tickets for fans 60 and older at RaysBaseball.com/specials or the BayCare Box Office at the Trop, subject to availability. Plus, all active-duty military, retired and honorably discharged veterans can purchase $20 tickets by visiting RaysBaseball.com/specials. Affiliation will be verified by ID.me, a third-party MLB-approved verification service. Also, the limited-edition fourth of seven prints in the Rays Artist Print Series will be released and can be bought for $30 at the Rays Republic Team Store. For more information, visit RaysBaseball.com/printseries.
  • Friday (7:10 p.m.): It’s Rays Up Night. Holocaust Survivor Lisl Schick throws out the first pitch. Get an outfield seat for $28 and $5 of your purchase benefits the Florida Holocaust Museum. Plus, there are $5 Budweisers on the Budweiser Porch for all Friday home games.
  • Saturday (4:10 p.m.): It’s Stranger Things Night: In honor of the third-season premiere of Netflix’s Stranger Things, the game will feature in-game music from the series, scoreboard features and photo opportunities for fans. Special merchandise, including Stranger Things caps and Tervis tumblers, will be available for purchase in the Rays Republic Team Store. Is it just us, or does all this Montreal talk seem to come from The Upside Down?
  • Sunday (1:10 p.m.): It’s Law Enforcement Appreciation Day: Fans can buy a $35 ticket package that includes a seat in the Lower Level and a Rays hat. With each ticket purchased, $5 will be donated to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. To buy the ticket special or for more information, visit RaysBaseball.com/specialevents. (Deadline to purchase the special tickets is Thursday at 11:59 p.m.)


  • Rob Thomas -- The “Smooth” singer and Matchbox Twenty frontman is touring in support of his recent fourth solo album, Chip Tooth Smile. $64 and up. 8 p.m. Friday Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 300-2000.
  • The Wallflowers -- Jakob Dylan and his roots-rock outfit return to the bay area for a night of crooning lyrics and punchy alt-rock. $50. Friday at 9 p.m. Seminole Hard Rock, 5223 Orient Road, Tampa. (813) 627-7625. Seminolehardrocktampa.com
  • Train & The Goo Goo Dolls -- Two of the biggest hitmaking rock groups tour together with guest soul musician Allen Stone. $29.50. 7 p.m. Sunday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 N Us Highway 301, Tampa. (813) 740-2446. 
  • Stephen Marley -- The son of the iconic Wailers frontman has continuously made a name for himself with his fusion of classic reggae with contemporary hip-hop production styles. $30.50. 7 p.m. Sunday at Jannus Live, 200 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 565-0550.
  • Jeff Lynne’s ELO -- Legendary musician and his band will make a pop performance singing hits like Evil Woman, Can’t Get it Out of My Head, Turn to Stone,Sweet Talkin’ Woman, Telephone Line and more. British multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Dhani Harrison will join the tour as the opening act. 8 p.m. Sunday at Amalie Arena, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. (813) 301-2500. Amaliearena.com

Other Events

Melons for Moolah: The watermelon-themed festival to benefit the Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation returns as an all-day Melons For Moolah family event. After setting a Guinness World Record for the “Most Participants in a Watermelon-Eating Contest” last year, Melons for Moolah is expanding to a full day of activities with water slides, contests, a home brew competition, entertainment, food and drink sales and ending with a screening of the summertime classic The Goonies on a 25-foot movie screen in the park. Free admission, water slide wristband is $5 for unlimited rides. 3-10 p.m. Saturday. Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, 110 Veterans Lane.

Water Gun Fight:  Join the Geekocracy meetup group to celebrate your independence by blasting your fellow geeks and gamers in the face in this giant water gun fight at Red, White, and Sploosh. There will be inflatable kiddie pools set up to refill your guns. Organizers suggest bringing two water guns in case your first one breaks and you are without a defense. Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. Al Lopez Park, 4810 N Himes Ave., Tampa.

Sing-Along Grease: There’s no time like Tampa Theatre’s Summer Classics movie series to watch a movie about the most famous summer romance ever and belt out the tunes to Sing-Along Grease. Based on the hit Broadway musical and full of catchy songs, the 1978 blockbuster starred John Travolta as the greaser Danny and Olivia Newton-John as prim Australian Sandy. Grease was the top pick in this year’s poll of fans by Tampa Theatre, so it remains an audience favorite. Follow the lyrics on the screen, and sing along to bring back memories of those Suhhh-uhhh-mer…. Niiii-hiiiiights. Before the film, pose for a free souvenir photo starting at 2 p.m. in the lobby. $13. 3 p.m. Sunday. 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. (813) 274-8286.


Some of the lesser-known homes to wildlife in the area offer up-close looks at their residents this week, and ticket sales benefit animal upkeep at two local nonprofits:

  • Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, just south of Sun City Center in Wimauma, is home to lemurs, parrots, tigers, leopards, bears, wolves, tortoises, bobcats and assorted birds. The nonprofit provides care for exotic and wild animals that need a home. On the first Sunday of each month, employees offer a guided tour to get up close with the exotic animals. $15, $10 seniors, $7.50 for 12 and younger. Tours are at 12:30 and 2 p.m. Sunday, and there are regular Saturday tours at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, 13910 Seminole Trail, Wimauma. (813) 634-4115. Elmiraswildlife.org
  • Croc Encounters was established in east Hillsoborugh in January of 2005 as a nonprofit sanctuary dedicated to rescuing unwanted reptiles. While crocodilians have been the main focus, the sanctuary has extended the haven to unwanted snakes, lizards, turtles and amphibians. This week, the Self Guided Saturday offers an up-close a look at the park including alligator and crocodile ponds, a live feeding encounter and a hands-on live animal encounter. $13, $10 ages 3-11. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. 8703 Bowles Road, Tampa. (813) 217-4400. crocencounters.com


Drunken Disney Series: Dress as your favorite Disney character, grab a drink and get ready to belt out popular Disney songs at St. Petersburg’s Iberian Rooster. Includes drink specials and a costume contest with prizes. No cover, food and drink additional. 10 p.m. Saturday. 475 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 258-8753.

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