Independence Day Festivities Boom Back

Independence Day fireworks and festivities in Polk County set for this weekend will be booming back now that the COVID-19 restrictions of 2020 are in remission. In addition to Lakeland’s fireworks display, cities around Polk County are also putting lights back in the sky at their Independence Day celebrations.

In Lakeland, the T. Mims Corp. Red, White and Kaboom City Independence Day Celebration is Saturday, from 6 to 9:15 p.m. above Lake Mirror. Many fireworks watchers typically set up chairs and blankets at the popular amphitheater along the lake’s southeast side as well as at viewing spots around the historic site.

Live entertainment begins at 6 with the fireworks display lighting up the sky at 9.  Kevin Cook, the city of Lakeland’s communications director, unless there’s a major weather issue, the fireworks will begin on time at 9 p.m.

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Tom and Paula Mims, who kicked off their sponsorship of the fireworks and fun event in 2009, continue to emphasize the celebration has a giving component. Mims asks residents and visitors once again to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, also known as VISTE.

“We are so pleased to be able to do it (the celebration) this year after being put aside last year due to Covid.  It’s an amazing time to bring everyone in the community together,” Tom Mims says.

While the celebration is free, Mims hopes people will view bringing a jar of peanut butter or cans of tuna as their entry tickets.

“We ask all those attending to bring a canned food item that will help those in need,” Mims says, “We want everyone to have fun, but we also want to help raise awareness for VISTE and use this opportunity to have the community’s largest canned food drive.”

VISTE helps serve the elderly in their homes by providing supplemental groceries to more than 1,500 households each month. Once you find your favorite spot Saturday to take in the fun, you can look for the VISTE tent to drop off any donations.

Music: This year’s live concert features the 60 West Band, a top 40 cover/pop band from Tampa. The four-member band has won several local awards, including “Creative Loafing’s” Best of the Bay 2020. The group’s varied repertoire covers the Beatles to Bruno Mars.

60 West Band

Food: If your group isn’t bringing your favorite picnic finger foods to share, several food trucks will be there and their locations are shown on the map above. They include:

  1. Blue Dog BBQ – BBQ
  2. Off the Griddle – Variety
  3. Big Hot Box – Tacos, Quesadilla, Nachos
  4. Rolling Gourmet – Burgers
  5. T. Mims Corp – Large Tent
  6. Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
  7. Pelican Snowballs – Italian Ice
  8. Thunder Hollow – Kettle Corn
  9. Mr. C’s Grilled Cheese

Evening schedule:

  • 6:00 p.m. | Address Audience / 60 West Band – 1st Set
  • 7:15 p.m. | 60 West Band – 2nd Set
  • 8:15 p.m. | 60 West Band – 3rd Set
  • 9:00 p.m. | Fireworks
  • 9:15 p.m. | 60 West Band – Closing Song

Restroom accommodations include six accessible restrooms, mostly portable toilets, around Lake Mirror, with one inside the Lake Mirror Center.

Public parking: The city options for parking Saturday: Iowa Street Parking Garage; Heritage Plaza Garage; and the Main Street Parking Garage. A special ADA lot for individuals with disabilities will be set up at the Catapult Lakeland parking lot, 502 E. Main Street, with entry at Massachusetts Ave and Cedar Street. Vehicles must have a placard displayed in their windows or the correct license plate designation to get into the ADA lot.

Flying Tigers: Unlike many past years, the Lakeland Flying Tigers have no fireworks planned for July 4 because they have no home game scheduled that day. Instead, their Independence Day fireworks display was held last Saturday.

Other fireworks displays are planned around Polk County. These are on Sunday:

  • Auburndale, 4th of July Fireworks on Lake Ariana, at 9 p.m.
  • Bartow’s Independence Day Extravaganza, Mosaic Park; live music artist performances and Adult Concert Band; starts 2:30 p.m.; fireworks at 9:30.
  • Davenport 4th of July, 3 – 9:45 p.m.; live bands, food vendors and the fireworks display along Davenport Boulevard beginning at 9:15.
  • Fort Meade fireworks display; Patterson Park, 8:30 – 9 p.m.
  • The Town of Dundee hosts a Drive-In Fireworks (only) Celebration at 9 p.m., launched from Lake Marie. Parking opens 8 p.m. 
  • Haines City’s Thunder on the Ridge signature event, Sunday, 3 – 10 p.m. Lake Eva Park, 555 Ledwith Ave.

In addition to those, Frostproof Lights on the Lake show, is Saturday July 3, 5 – 10 p.m. at Lake Clinch; fireworks at 9 p.m.

Check Lakeland Mom for even more area Independence Day events.

And a final word of caution from public safety officials: Whichever day, Saturday or Sunday, that you decide to show your patriotism and enjoy events, remember to be careful handling any firecrackers or pyrotechnics. Fire departments recommend leaving fireworks to the professionals.

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