It was one of the biggest fireworks displays south of Washington, D.C., at Coachman Park in Clearwater.
Music filled the air during a concert beforehand, courtesy of some very familiar faces, then the crowd was treated to a spectacular fireworks show.
Clearwater celebrated America and they did it in a big way, with plenty of red, white and boom!
The hits kept on coming, as shell after shell, illuminated the sky. It was an incredible show.
People packed the shores to get the best view. Many families got to the waterfront by 3 in the afternoon, to grab the coveted shade of the trees and to get the best spots to see both the concert and the fireworks.
FOX13's own John Wilson, his wife Mary Kay and son Paul poured out their patriotic best, for nearly two hours, with the Mostly Pops Orchestra.
This is something they've enjoyed doing for 27 years now. People said it's just one of the reasons they keep coming back, year after year.
"We've been coming for about five or six years, the music is great, it's a little loud, I think it's where we're sitting, you're pretty close to the stage, yeah, but the fireworks are great," said Nancy Wise.
"I love music and this is great, it's cool out here, we had a sunset," said Linda Brewer, who is a singer and couldn't stop tapping her toes in the grass.
"We come over here ever year, this is one of the great 4th of July celebrations in the area, the fireworks are great, the music is great, everybody has a good time!," said Mike Pheneger, who is retired now, after 30 years in the U.S. Army.
There were some traffic tie-ups right above the park. Officials had to close down the bridge briefly, before and after the fireworks, and that caused some major delays. But folks were treated to an amazing light show, whether they wanted it or not.
"And this is my first time, and I've lived here in Florida, about 20 years," said Michael Fitzgerald.
Still, Fitzgerald had never been to the waterfront for Clearwater Celebrates America. Close to 40-thousand have packed the shores there, for a night of great music and fireworks.
"Aaaah! Aaaaah!," screamed a little girl with delight. There was a brief moment of panic in a sea of bubbles her mother was generating from a large bubble gun. But then, a person dressed as a shark gave her a start. She giggled and gave him high-fives.
"He's not gonna hurt you!," her mom said, laughing as the girl bolted away.
Some folks beat the heat bungee-ing into the seabreeze. In the blazing July sun, some folks took the traditional route to stay cool, with a glass of lemonade. Or how about inside a cooler, among the Capri Sun containers and chocolate Yoo-Hoo drinks. That's where we found Soleil Fitzgerald's head!
"So this is your preferred method of staying cool? Better than the beach?," we asked her, as she pulled her head out of the ice-cold water and ice cubes. "Yeah," she giggled.
"Well, whatever she's gotta do to keep cool," her father laughed.
"We usually have family gather down here and whoever can get here first gets the spot," said Pauline Shields, whose family parked their chairs and blankets underneath a shady tree.
"We can see the stage, we got a beautiful breeze," she said. "I know the fireworks go up right there, so we're perfect. Life is good!"
Her father John Sellars is visiting from New England, escaping the brutal heat up there right now.
"It's been much nicer down here than it is up there!," said Sellars.
While many people hit the roads this year, locals know the 4th at the waterfront in Clearwater, is one of the best stay-cations you can take.
"Yes, absolutely, there's no better place, we live in paradise right here, the weather's perfect, we're on the water, can't ask for anything better," said Shields.
Years ago, before the economy took a dive, Clearwater would bring in rock bands for two days, then the Wilson's would close-out the celebration with a night of music on the 4th. Well now, it's just the Wilsons and the Mostly Pops Orchestra and they brought the house down.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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