RALEIGH — City officials are planning a bigger July Fourth celebration than last year – both in the number of activities and in the height of the fireworks.
Raleigh’s new downtown July Fourth celebration last year, called The Works, was largely considered a success during the day and a failure at night. The festival received positive reviews, but people not on Fayetteville Street found their view of the fireworks display blocked by city buildings.
To remedy that, there will be two fireworks displays this year, city officials said Wednesday.
The first, at 9:15 p.m., will be best seen from Fayetteville Street and will be launched from the parking lot in front of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. These fireworks will reach about 300 feet.
The second, at 10:15 p.m., will be in the area of the Red Hat Amphitheater, with larger fireworks shells than last year. These fireworks, shot from an open space rather than among city buildings, will reach about 600 feet and will be visible from a distance.
“They’re going to be higher. We’re going to be able to see them,” Mayor Nancy McFarlane said. “It’s going to be a great, great fourth of July.”
City Manager Russell Allen said with two events, people will be able to choose how they want to view the fireworks.
“They’ll be able to view it from whatever angle they wish,” Allen said. “They’ll know in advance what’s going to happen.”
Until last year, the city’s July Fourth fireworks had been held for years at the State Fairgrounds. City officials decided to move the festivities downtown to help boost business and to create another major downtown event.
Allen said the city chose to keep the July Fourth celebration downtown after last year for a variety reasons.
“It’s just a huge, huge wonderful public urban space that everybody loves,” he said. “There are also lots of property owners, business owners, restaurants, bars, that can really support a major crowd.
“We’ve got parking, … we’ve got performance venues there, so we can make it much more than just a fireworks show.”
Activities on Fayetteville Street start at noon and will include more than 100 art and food vendors, live music with 16 bands, street performers, and areas for children with rides and water.
“The music starts at noon and will not stop until 11 p.m.,” McFarlane said.
A free concert will begin at 6 p.m. in the amphitheater, with The Chris Hendricks Band, Cravin’ Melon, and the American Aquarium.
The lineup was announced Wednesday at City Plaza during a press conference, which began with a musical performance by the Chit Nasty Band with a chorus of “I want you to feel brand new.”
Allen added that the July Fourth festivities also help replace the Raleigh Wide Open, which ended in 2010, as the major family-oriented downtown event.
The city is spending $25,000, less than what it used to spend at the State Fairgrounds, Convention Center officials said.
There are three sponsors: WTVD-TV is sponsoring the fireworks for $25,000, OneMain Financial is giving $15,000 and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance $10,000 for the overall festival, with OneMain Financial sponsoring the free concert.