ORLANDO — Despite generating some controversy over the official invite on the City of Orlando’s website, Orlando’s traditional July 4 holiday spectacular celebration will be held at Lake Eola Park on Monday.
On Saturday, the city issued an apology after drawing criticism for posting an announcement about the celebration that originally read: “A lot of people probably don’t want to celebrate our nation right now, and we can’t blame them. When there is so much division, hate and unrest, why on earth would you want to have a party celebrating any of it?
“But in all seriousness, you know in your heart, Fourth of July fireworks are amazing, especially when you are standing in 90° heat, 100% humidity, next to 100,000 of your closest friends. In that moment, something takes over and we all become united in an inexplicable bond. Yes, America is in strife right now, but you know what…we already bought the fireworks.”
The city later issued an apology that read: “The city of Orlando sincerely regrets the negative impact our words have had on some in our community. We understand these words offended some of our residents, which was not our intent. We value the freedoms we have in this country and are thankful to the men and women who fought and continue to fight for those. We take pride in celebrating the 4th of July to express our gratitude to those men and women and honor the country we live in.”
And that means the fun is still on!
The 45th annual Fireworks at the Fountain celebration begin at 4 p.m., although visitors are being encouraged to arrive early to find a great viewing spot, since the park at 195 N. Rosalind Ave. tends to get mighty crowded. The family-friendly activities will include live music, a kids play zone, and a dozen food vendors on site. The evening concludes with a patriotic firework display at 9:10 p.m., accompanied by a performance from the Orlando Concert Band.
The Amphitheater Stage will have live entertainment starting at 4 p.m.
Since parking can be a challenge in downtown Orlando, parking is being made available in the garages located in downtown. Click here to see an interactive map of the different options available on that holiday.
Downtown residents are being encouraged to use the LYMMO circulator bus, which is free, to get to Lake Eola.
The city is also asking people to consider other ways of getting to the park besides using their car.
“Event attendees are encouraged to use alternative methods of transportation to visit Fireworks at the Fountain, including ride share services, carpooling, buses, and bicycles,” the city noted.
The city’s July 4 2020 celebration got cancelled in 2020 due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, but it was resumed in 2021 as new Covid-19 cases dropped to record lows.
Check Out The Lake Eola Fountain
If you do attend the July 4 bash and are new to the city, check out the refurbished fountain, which dates back to the 1950s and is the centerpiece of the lake. The fountain suffered electrical and mechanical problems in the summer of 2009 when it was struck by a lightning bolt. In 2011, the fountain benefited from improvements and upgrades made by the city.
Construction of the fountain was completed in 1957, when it was known as the Centennial Fountain – and was unveiled to mark the 100th anniversary of the naming of Orlando.
It was renamed the Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain in 1965, a tribute to the local businessman who had been inspired by similar fountains he had seen in Europe, and believed Orlando should have one as well.
The fountain was re-dedicated and resumed operation on July 4 2011, during that year’s Fireworks at the Fountain event. The following October, the city began daily jazz shows at 8 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., featuring a choreographed water, light and sound show that ran four minutes and 35 seconds long.
In 2012, the city had a special booth at the park commemorating the fountain’s unique history, and attendees could buy a piece of the old Lake Eola Fountain as a souvenir, with proceeds directly benefiting the Orlando Community & Youth Trust, Inc., a non-profit organization created to support the mission of the city’s Department of Families, Parks, and Recreation. The money was also used for the upkeep and future enhancements at Lake Eola Park.
The city is also encouraging people to watch the fireworks at Lake Eola or at home on TV, and avoid setting off their own fireworks.
“According to National Fire Protection research, there are more U.S. fires reported on a typical Independence Day than on any other day, and fireworks account for more than half of those fires,” the city noted in a news release. “In 2009, fireworks caused an estimated 18,000 reported fires. These fires resulted in an estimated $38 million in direct property damage.”
The Orlando Fire Department has pointed out that “The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend a public display conducted by trained professionals. Residents and visitors are encouraged to leave the fireworks to the professionals. Do not use consumer fireworks. After a fireworks display, never let children pick up leftover fireworks. They may still be active.”
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.