Amarillo Globe News: After a drought-ravaged 2011, fireworks are back in a big way this Fourth of July.
The centerpiece of area celebrations is AGN Media 2012 July 4th Fireworks Festival, the largest annual event in the Texas Panhandle and an Amarillo fixture since 1954.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m. at John S. Stiff Memorial Park, 45th Avenue and Bell Street.
This year’s event features food vendors, children’s rides and a concert by Beyond Country, A.J. Swope & The Last Train Home and Casey Berry. Bell Helicopter will be flying in a civilian helicopter and giving Amarillo citizens a chance to meet pilots of the V-22 Osprey. The Amarillo National Bank hot air balloon also will be on location.
The celebration peaks with a custom-designed fireworks show at dark produced by Western Enterprises and featuring a live performance by Amarillo Symphony.
“We are excited about the opportunity to bring fireworks back to the Fourth of July,” said AGN Media publisher Les Simpson. “Last year’s laser show was our best option, but there’s nothing that says July 4 better than a community fireworks show.”
On-site parking is provided in the north side of the park along 45th Avenue. Cost is $3, and all proceeds raised benefit AMBUCS.
“This is the largest annual event for our community and we appreciate the City of Amarillo and our sponsors for helping with the annual Fireworks Festival,” Simpson said.
Other celebrations in the metro area include:Amarillo Zoo will kick off Fourth of July festivities Saturday with “Red, White and Zoo,” which includes activities, live music and patriotic animal activities at the zoo inside Thompson Park, Northeast 24th Avenue and Dumas Drive.
At 1 p.m., the zoo’s male African lion, Solomon, attempts to break the 89-second record for eating a 72-ounce The Big Texan Steak Ranch steak. Humans can get in on the eating fun, too, with three pie-eating contests at 1:45 p.m. (for 10- to 12-year-olds), 2:15 p.m. (for 13- to 17-year-olds) and 2:45 p.m. (for ages 18 and older). Other activities include face painting, a hula hoop contest, a scavenger hunt, live music by Andy Chase Cundiff, exhibits by the Amarillo police and fire departments and an endless hot dog buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular zoo admission fees apply — $3 for adults, $2 for seniors and $1 for children ages 3 to 12. The hot dog lunch costs an additional $6. For information, call 806-381-7911 or visitwww.amarillozoo.org.
✉ Canyon’s Independence Day Celebration opens with a Lions Club pancake breakfast at Cole Community Center on the downtown square. The vendor fair, featuring about 150 booths, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the downtown square, followed by a parade down Fourth Avenue at 10:30 a.m. The Party in the Park begins at 6 p.m. at Connor Park, 1900 12th Ave., with Vic Fontana & The Automatics at 8 p.m. and fireworks at 9:50 p.m. For information, call806-655-7815.
✉ The “Texas” musical drama will host an extended fireworks and dancing waters finale at four shows beginning Wednesday as part of its USA Independence Celebration. Regular admission rates apply. For information, call 806-655-2181 or visit www .texas-show.com.
Regional towns also will celebrate the holiday with some long-standing traditions.
✉ The 135th Saints’ Roost Celebration kicks off Wednesday in Clarendon. The Donley County Courthouse Square plays host to a crafts fair at 9 a.m., a kids’ bicycle parade at 10 a.m. and the Shriner’s barbecue lunch at 11 a.m. The Western Parade kicks off at 2 p.m. A junior ranch rodeo begins at 7:30 p.m., with a dance featuring Trevor Leeper kicking off at 9 p.m.
Festivities continue July 6 and 7 with the Clarendon Outdoor Entertainment Association’s Ranch Rodeo at 7:30 p.m. nightly. Dances begin at 9 p.m. nightly with Chris Clerihew & The West Coast Turnarounds on July 6 and The Buster Bledsoe Band, Tommy Gallagher and Brimstone on July 7. For information, call 806-874-2421.
✉ Canadian hosts its 124th annual 4th of July Celebration beginning Friday with a Texas Cowboys Rodeo Association rodeo performance at 7 p.m. in the Canadian Rodeo Arena. A dance featuring Cody Jinks and The Josh Abbott Band begins at 9 p.m. in the Jones Pavilion.
Rodeo action continues Saturday with the fifth annual Ranch Rodeo at 7 p.m., followed by a dance featuring Cody Jinks and Trent Willmon in the Jones Pavillion. The Ranch Rodeo continues at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The celebration culminates on Wednesday with a day full of activities, kicking off at 10 a.m. with a parade starting at Gazebo Park. Three lunch parties will be held: A hot dog lunch at Lowe’s Pay ’N Save, a lunch at Canadian Volunteer Fire Department and the Old Timers’ Barbecue Lunch at Canadian Elementary School.
Canadian River Art, 312 Main St., and the Citadelle Art Foundation will hold special hours. The day also includes a watermelon feast at 5:30 p.m., the 18th annual duck race at 6 p.m. and a TCRA rodeo performance at 7 p.m.
Admission prices vary for different events. For information, call 806-323-6234.
✉ Dumas pops its fireworks on Tuesday with a watch party at McDade Park. The world championship mud volleyball tournament kicks off at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the park. Other July 4th events run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including live entertainment and a ceremony honoring veterans at 4 p.m. For information, call 806-935-2123.
✉ July 4th celebrations also launch a day early in Wheeler. A Cajun Boil dinner begins at 6 p.m. at Wheeler City Park, Seventh and Grove streets, followed by a dance featuring Matt Martindale.
The July 4th parade kicks off at 9 a.m., and events at the park, including washer tossing, horseshoe competitions, food booths and more, begin at 10 a.m. Fireworks begin at dusk.
Admission prices vary. For information, call 806-334-3039.
✉ Pampa celebrates its centennial fireworks celebration at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Recreation Park, Texas Highway 60 east of Pampa. The party includes free hot dogs, birthday cookies and ice cream. For information, call 806-669-5750.
✉ Perryton’s Lake Fryer celebrates the Fourth with activities beginning at 7 a.m., including kids’ games, barbecue, contests and tournaments, with a fireworks show at dusk. For information, call 806-435-4559.
✉ The Channing Fire Department’s annual fireworks show and hamburger feed kick off at 6 p.m. Wednesday at North and Main streets in Channing.
✉ A pair of parties kick off Wednesday in Hereford. The Freedom Celebration includes a parade, food booths and activities in Dameron Park, Main Street and Park Avenue. Then, on July 7, the Crimestoppers Summer Bash at Aquatic Center Park, 15th Street and Avenue C, includes a motorcycle and car show and evening fireworks. Admission to both parties is free. For information, call 806-364-3333.