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Top 10 Fourth of July events in the South Sound

Enjoy the day by celebrating with others

The area’s largest celebration on the 4th of July is in Tacoma on Ruston Way during Freedom Fair. Courtesy photo

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With many eyes on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Tacoma's Fourth of July festivals, you may think that is the beginning and end of it. Here are the Top 10 in the area we'd suggest:

TACOMA AREA
1. Freedom Fest:
Let's start with Freedom Fest at JBLM, the annual celebration that invites the public to enjoy a festival-style day with a car show, concert, fair food, carnival rides and kids activities (giant bubbles anyone? Or perhaps a reptile show?) For adults, a beer garden is on hand. And, of course, fun for all ages is the fireworks finale. Festival starts at noon, with fireworks beginning at dusk.  

Tips: Guests without a DoD ID card holder in their vehicle should enter JBLM via the DuPont Gate, I-5 Exit 119. Make sure you bring your regular ID. After parking, shuttle buses will transport visitors to and from the event site.

Freedom Fest, Saturday, July 4, 12 p.m., free admission, Cowan and Memorial Stadiums, JBLM-Main, www.jblmmwr.com/freedomfest

2. Tacoma Rainiers:
Next is our beloved Tacoma Rainiers. With Rhubarb's silly antics, #9's batting average, and a family-friendly atmosphere, it's a win-win. Friday nights at Cheney Stadium always feature fireworks, but July 3, expect a few other special surprises.

Tips: Bring your mitt and a blanket, and check out the newest food vendor, Tacoma's own Red Hot, featuring gourmet hot dogs - think bacon and cream cheese or crackerjack and peanut butter toppings - yum.

Tacoma Rainiers, Friday, July 3, 7:05 p.m., fireworks after the game, Cheney Stadium, 2502 S. Tyler St., Tacoma, www.tacomarainiers.com

3. Freedom Fair:
Nothing says Independence Day quite like watching fireworks on the waterfront. Tacoma's Ruston Way is the perfect setting to catch the fireworks of Freedom Fair, the finale of a day's worth of festivities. From aircraft, bmx and car shows to food, vendors, exhibits, rides, and more, the event has been entertaining Tacoma for more than 30 years.

Tips: Two words - water and sunscreen. And consider taking the bus to avoid parking and traffic.

Freedom Fair, Saturday, July 4, donation, Ruston Way waterfront, Tacoma, www.freedomfair.com

4. Wings and Wheels:
An extension of Freedom Fair, the Wings and Wheels event takes place the following day in Gig Harbor, with vintage warbirds, dragster demo, plane rides, car show and kid's zone as just a few highlights.

Tip: Buy your advanced ticket online and receive airport parking. Day-of-event ticket holders will have to use satellite parking and bus in.

Wings and Wheels, Sunday, July 5, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., $5-$15, Tacoma Narrows Airport, 1202 26th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor, www.freedomfair.com/wings-wheels

5. Steilacoom 4th of July:
To scale down festivities to more of a neighborhood feel, consider heading to the Town of Steilacoom for kid-friendly activities such as a parade, craft booths and an evening fireworks display.

Steilacoom 4th of July, Saturday, July 4, 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., free, City of Steilacoom, townofsteilacoom.com

6. Fireworks Over Des Moines:
For our Sea-Tac neighbors, watching fireworks from the marina and Beach Park in Des Moines is a nice option. No special thrills or whistles are attached to this event. Just a beautiful display over the sound, about as simple, and arguably patriotic, as one can get.

Fireworks Over Des Moines, Saturday, July 4, 10 p.m., $1 suggested donation, Des Moines Marina, 22307 Dock Ave., Des Moines, www.desmoinesmarina.com

OLYMPIA AREA
7. Lacey Fireworks Spectacular & Freedom Concert:
A Lacey tradition, the event is open to the public, with festivities and live music (this year, check out Battle Rhythm, the 56th Army Rock Band) at the Lacey Crossroads Shopping Center. Family-friendly, the event also features face-painting, kids activities and food. The event cultivates in a fireworks display launched from William Bush Park.

Tips: Bring a lawn chair or blanket for the concert. Best viewing for fireworks is at College St. and Yelm Highway.

Lacey Fireworks Spectacular & Freedom Concert, Saturday, July 4, 6 p.m., fireworks at 10:15 p.m., William Bush Park, 4400 Chardonney Dr. SE, Lacey, www.ci.lacey.wa.us

8. Artesian Family Festival & Thunder Valley Fireworks Show:
Tumwater likes to party for the 4th - with a parade kicking off the day at 11 a.m., moving south from Capitol Blvd. and Lee St. into Tumwater, celebration starts early. After an afternoon break (insert margaritas here?), Artesian fans are invited to Tumwater Valley Golf Course driving range for an evening of activities, including music, food and games. Followed, of course, by fireworks.

Tips: While the event is free, parking is $10.

Artesian Family Festival & Thunder Valley Fireworks Show, Saturday, July 4, 6 p.m., Tumwater Valley Golf Course, 4611 Tumwater Valley Dr. SE, Tumwater, www.ci.tumwater.wa.us

9. Boston Harbor Marina Fireworks:
A little on the outskirts, Boston Harbor Marina is a local favorite for fireworks gazing. Again, nothing beats fireworks on the water. If you can phone a friend, try and get out on a boat, but otherwise, enjoy the view from your car or the marina café.

Tip: Get there by 7 p.m. for best parking, and enjoy some drinks or snacks on the marina dock.

Boston Harbor Marina Fireworks, Friday, July 3, donation, begins at dusk, Boston Harbor Marina, 312 73rd Ave. NE, Olympia, www.bostonharbormarina.com

10. South Sound Speedway Independence Celebration:
For our South Thurston County adventurers, the speedway has a fast and fun way to celebrate the 4th. After the races, with mini-stocks, bumblebees, hobby stocks and super 4's, check out the huge fireworks display.  

Tips: It's loud. Bring ear protection.

South Sound Speedway Independence Celebration, Saturday, July 4, races at 6 p.m., followed by fireworks, $7-$20, children 5 and younger free, South Sound Speedway, 3730 183rd Ave. SW, Rochester, www.southsoundspeedway.com

Bonus #1: Out of town for the 4th? Or maybe just a fireworks fanatic? Catch another brilliant display the final night of Capitol Lakefair, Sunday, July 19, in downtown Olympia. www.lakefair.org.

Bonus #2:  Bainbridge Island's 4th Celebration
The Grand Old 4th of July Parade and Community Celebration on Bainbridge Island on the 4th includes a pancake breakfast, all-day street fair, foot races, classic car show, live music, food, beer barden, capped off by the "Best Small Town Parade in America." The mile-long parade begins at 1 p.m. sharp.

Bainbridge Island downtown. grandold4th.com/

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