For the last 238 years, each Fourth of July, every United States city, town and state celebrates our independence and freedom in its own unique way.
The festivities we enjoy today got a hefty boost from John Adams’ letter to his wife stating our Independence Day should continue to be celebrated annually. Adams’ list of ways included “parades, demonstrations, games, sporting events, bonfires, and illuminations that could be seen from the east coast to the west coast from that day forward and forever.” We do still go all out with our modern day parades, concerts, backyard barbecues, and of course firework displays!!!
In our boating community of Clearwater, Fla., we celebrate our freedom by putting out the best, largest and brightest on the water fireworks display in the greater Tampa Bay area.
Every Fourth of July, hundreds of boats of all sizes flock, very early in the morning, to the Clearwater Harbor Marina downtown, to get a front row seat for the well-known fireworks display. Mike, the Harbor Marina Dockmaster reminded us, anyone wanting a slip for the Fourth for overnight must reserve it months in advance, or run the chance of being left out. Boat slip lengths range from 30 to 55 feet.
The marina also offers 700 feet of free daytime only docking (overnights not allowed), providing front row seats for the fireworks show. The policy is first-come first-served and you must leave right after the fireworks are over. Your last option is to anchor out, so long as you are outside the restricted zone, and out of the ICW channel. For more information or if you are interested in renting a slip, call 727-462-6954.
Back on land, on the sunny coast of the Gulf of Mexico, we do things a little differently. Besides the traditional burgers and dogs barbecue, you can enjoy freshly caught fish and our local fresh grouper sandwiches to celebrate this special day.
Also, if you enjoy singing along to popular American songs, join the crowd in beautiful Coachman Park, just a five-minute stroll from the Harbor Marina. Last year we were entertained by the Mostly Pops Orchestra with John and Mary K. Wilson. At the park enjoy food and drinks, and the kids can find fun and games planned just for them in a carnival area. Arts and crafts booths and face painting artistry, in fact all children’s activities, except the food and drinks, are free as the wind!
The fireworks, launch from a green area located on the north side of the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge, and shoot east over the waters of the Intracoastal Waterway right in front of Coachman Park. They begin promptly at 9:30 p.m. lighting the skies and the water for 30 minutes. For the safety of everyone, the Causeway Bridge closes at 9 p.m., 30 minutes before the show begins, and remains closed until the crowd is cleared after the show. Planning your trip route to or from surrounding towns should include this important time frame. The bridge, in fact, actually creates an interesting background to the dazzling fireworks display.
If you do not have a boat but wish to experience the fireworks display from the water, options include exclusive sailing charters, large group dinner cruises, and charter boats for hire. Plan and reserve early to make sure you can catch a ride!
Since sailing our boat from Puerto Rico to Florida in May 2011, we are very fortunate to be permanent residents of the Clearwater Harbor Marina. This year marks our fourth celebration and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. We hope to see you out and about in your boats on that spectacular day! If you make it to the Marina, please stop by slip B-4 and say hi. Last year we had 17 guests on our 37’ sailboat Nada Mas! We can’t wait to see how many people we’ll share with this year.
For more information contact the City of Clearwater at 727-562-4700