Fireworks are fine, but stretch your legs a little and there’s no end of options for how to celebrate this Independence Day.
From downtown Raleigh to Rolesville and beyond, Wake and Franklin counties offer everything from a naturalization ceremony for 30 new U.S. citizens in downtown Raleigh to a helicopter landing in Franklinton or 1770s colonial life re-enactment just north of Raleigh.
Or just grab a blanket and a flashlight and head to your nearest fireworks site for a classic patriotic party.
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For fireworks, head downtown to the south end of Fayetteville Street in front of the Progress Energy Center at 9:40 p.m.
Before that, you might want to arrive in time for a daylong capital-city party with events across downtown starting at 11 a.m. Samples from downtown restaurants – think Sono, La Volta and Buke – will be offered on the sidewalks. Six straight hours of music are scheduled from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. on stages at City Plaza and at Morgan and Fayetteville Streets. Art vendors will be set up in the 200 block of Fayetteville Street starting at noon.
A selection of other events are listed here, but wandering feet and a little curiosity will be rewarded with everything from wrestling demonstrations to fire-twirling performances to beer-tasting.
Capitol grounds: At 11 a.m., the event kicks off with patriotic tunes by the Raleigh Concert Band, the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble, Star Catchers, Gail Leonard and Chris Anderson. A display of the nation’s early flags will be in the Capitol rotunda.
A wreath-laying and naturalization ceremony for new citizens starts at noon, followed by the traditional “Salute to Independence,” with a reading of the Declaration of Independence and the placement of flower arrangements to mark the Revolutionary War and other conflicts.
City Plaza, Fayetteville Street: All day, the slice of turf east of City Plaza is turning into a homemade water park, with water balloons, hoses, a slip-and-slide, water pistols and more.
At 8 p.m., the 82nd Airborne Division’s All-American Free Fall Team lands to kick off the evening portion of the celebration.
Martin Street near Fayetteville Street: Get ready for a watermelon seed-spitting contest at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. with two age divisions: 12 and under, and everyone else. Watermelon slices are 50 cents apiece with proceeds to benefit the Rotary Club of Raleigh.
At 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., hot dog-eating contests will feature gift certificates from downtown restaurants as prizes.
Didn’t get enough wieners the first time? Try again at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. at hot dog-eating contests from Lumpy’s Ice Cream.
Parking garages: Staffed from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a $5 entry fee.
Joel Lane Museum House: History buffs may wish to ditch downtown for the free open house at the 1770s-era Joel Lane Museum House from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 160 Saint Mary’s St. Re-enactors will demonstrate colonial life, with hands-on activities such as writing with a quill pen and making rag dolls.
Holding Park will feature a children’s parade on North Main Street at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday and Games-in-the-Park and Art-in-the-Park at 11 a.m. Wake Forest police will offer a K9 unit demonstration and the Wake Forest Fire Department will display a fire truck.
Bring lawn chairs to the alcohol-free, family-friendly event at dusk Wednesday, with fireworks on the ball fields at Rolesville Community Park, at Redford Place behind Food Lion.
“Stand Up For America” starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Old Franklinton High School football field just off U.S. 1. The event will feature food and military displays, plus a helicopter will land on the field.
Admission is $1, with children under 12 free. Luminaria and balloons are available for purchase to release during the event, with proceeds to VA hospitals.
Keeping with tradition, fireworks are at the Louisburg High School football stadium at 201 Allen Lane at dusk Wednesday, with gates to open on inflatables, games and food at 5:30 p.m. Keep an ear out to hear when fireworks are imminent – patriotic music begins to play about 30 minutes before start time.