ORLANDO — Let’s say you live in Central Florida, and you absolutely love a spectacular fireworks show on Independence Day. Here’s a tip: grab the family, hop in your car, and zip over to downtown Orlando — now.
The earlier you go, the better your parking options are going to be.
Because tonight, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer is once again inviting all of Central Florida to celebrate an exiting and patriotic July 4th at Lake Eola Park in the heart of downtown.
Orlando’s 41st Annual Fireworks at the Fountain event kicks off at 4 p.m., and spectators are encouraged to arrive early to find not only parking, but an ideal viewing spot. If past years are any indication, Lake Eola Park is likely to be very crowded indeed today.
And that’s what makes it so much fun. Isn’t it great to celebrate the fireworks show with a lively crowd?
And you won’t need to just sit patiently waiting for the fireworks show to begin. There’s going to be plenty of other family-friendly activities going on at the park before the fireworks, including:
* Live music
* Lawn games
* The children’s playground
* Food and beverages available for purchase.
Don’t expect to go hungry at this event. More than 20 food vendors will be available.
The fun concludes after sunset with a patriotic firework display, accompanied by a performance from the Orlando Concert Band.
The live entertainment schedule for today includes:
· 4 p.m. – The Mellow Relics
· 5:15 p.m. – Mo’Mo-Browne
· 6:30 p.m. – The Spring
· 8 p.m. – Orlando Concert Band
· 9 p.m. – Fireworks Countdown
* 9:15 p.m. – Fireworks Finale
On the Robinson Lawn Stage, the Big Dawg Dre Day DJ plays from 4-9 p.m.
This event also gives the city another opportunity to highlight the beautifully 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, but in 2011 it benefitted 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 the Fireworks at the Fountain Independence Day event.
Lake Eola Park is at 195 N. Rosalind Ave. in downtown Orlando.
At the same time, the city is encouraging residents to visit Lake Eola and enjoy the fireworks show today — rather than setting off fireworks on their own at home.
“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 notes 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.”
As far as parking, you can reserve a parking spot at one of the city’s Downtown parking garages ahead of time by pre-purchasing a parking pass. Visit Orlando Event Parking, select “Purchase/Reprint Permits” followed by “Purchase/Reprint Single Event/Game Parking Pass.”
And have a terrific Independence Day today!
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com..