Fourth Festivities

Mike Gorman

This week, we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in a suitable American way -- through massive explosions. Happily, the bombs in question are not the military kind but the sort that make pretty colors and loud bangs.

Many cities are content to go with the traditional show. In Fort Lauderdale, that means a heap of fireworks shot off from a barge out on the ocean, with best viewing places being along the beach from Las Olas Boulevard to Oakland Park Boulevard. The celebrations kick off at 6 p.m., with fireworks going up at the usual hour of 9 p.m. Pompano Beach follows the barge idea as well, with best viewing at the Main Pompano Public Beach and the show starting at 9 p.m.

But this being the first Fourth of July since America, or rather the White House, decided to take over the world, you can expect many celebrations to be even bigger and better than usual. West Palm Beach's "Fourth on Flagler" event features three stages of entertainment, a kids area, a firefighters' competition, and a parade, all culminating in the 9 p.m. fireworks and the unfurling of a five-story-high American flag above Meyer Amphitheatre, where more than 100,000 South Floridians will join in a rousing rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance. Just remember to leave out the "under God" part -- it's unconstitutional, after all. And while West Palm goes through the patriotic motions, nearby Sound Advice Amphitheatre has its own extravaganza in the works. Beginning at 4 p.m., the gates of the amphitheater swing open to reveal local performers as well as games, craft shows, pony and train rides, and more. The 56-piece Pops Orchestra takes the stage once the fireworks go off after dark, and this show promises to be huge -- about 4,000 shells huge.

Meanwhile, back in Broward, Davie gets things started at 10 a.m. at the Pine Island Community Center, with a variety of family activities through 3 p.m. The party then goes outdoors for a 6 p.m. salute to soldiers returning from war -- which shouldn't take long, since most are still over there searching for those annoyingly elusive WMDs -- and the fireworks, as usual, go off at 9 p.m.

Hollywood pegs its festivities as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, just in time for the next Korean War, which should be coming along any day now. Traditional music and dance by the Jang Seung Pae Dance Troupe is followed by singer Pamela A. Shelley's renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner," "God Bless the USA," and "God Bless America."

But why catch a faux "God Bless the USA" when you could have the real thing? Lee Greenwood himself comes to the Deerfield Beach celebration with his husky voice and Bob Roberts vocals ready to roll. Some folks may remember the song from 1983, when it reached number seven on the country charts. Others may remember it from early March of this year, when a fight erupted at a rodeo in Texas because a few fans wouldn't stand up during the country-western song. Just the sort of episode that makes us proud to be Americans.

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