Boom by the Bay: Where to see fireworks, celebrate 4th of July

Tampa’s Boom by the Bay is back in 2021 after taking a year off to avoid the risks of spreading COVID-19 in large crowds.

The family-friendly annual celebration launched under Tampa Mayor Jane Castor in 2019 includes live entertainment, multiple fireworks displays along The Tampa Riverwalk and the downtown waterfront, and more activities designed to encourage outdoor fun and long-awaited socializing.

Learn more on the City of Tampa website about Boom by the Bay and its 6 (yes, 6!) fireworks displays Sunday evening that will be visible from most of the city starting at dusk (about 9:15 p.m.) and lasting about 20 minutes.

The fireworks will go off simultaneously at:
  • Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park 
  • Armature Works 
  • Tampa Convention Center 
  • Sparkman Wharf 
  • Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
  • Bayshore Boulevard 
Before the fireworks on Sunday, Friends of the Riverwalk will conduct an inaugural July 4th Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet from 5 to 7 p.m. (The blessing is a tradition practiced in many fishing and boating communities around the world to ensure a safe and bountiful season.) 

According to the City, the parade will begin in the Tampa Convention Center basin, travel north to the Heights, and back around to end at Sparkman Wharf. 

Public viewing locations along the waterfront include: 
  • Armature Works
  • Channel Drive
  • Tampa Convention Center
  • Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
  • Davis Island
  • Harbour Island
  • Sparkman Wharf
  • Water Works Park
See the route and more details at The Tampa Riverwalk and at the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

Attendees who want to be downtown for the festivities are encouraged to arrive early and consider going carless by walking or using bicycles, scooters, water taxis, buses, the streetcar, or other ride-sharing and transportation options.

In St. Petersburg 

Across the Bay in St. Pete, the Pier will be holiday central all weekend starting with a giant Silent Party kicking off on Friday evening at 6 p.m. $10 gets you a set of headphones (or bring your own) to listen and dance to a mash up of music curated by 3 different DJ’s. Take the headphones off to talk amongst yourselves. Bring a picnic basket or purchase food and beverages there. The Silent Party continues Saturday night starting at 5 p.m. Other festivities on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday include live music, food trucks, karaoke, craft beers, pilates, kids activities, and more. Find detailed info on the St. Pete Pier website.

Other local cities, counties, and small businesses are celebrating in their own unique and creative ways that are expected to draw people out of their homes in numbers we haven’t seen since before the outbreak of COVID. 
 
(Warning to the unvaccinated: Health officials are urging anyone 12 and over who hasn’t been vaccinated to get at least the first jab before going out to mingle with other people during the holiday. If more people aren’t vaccinated or willing to wear masks during gatherings over the holiday, COVID-19 and its variants could cause another spike in deaths and illness across Florida and the nation. In other words, have fun but do so responsibly.)

Around Tampa Bay

Here is a listing of where to find more information about Fourth of July festivities around the West Central Florida region:

Visit Tampa Bay lists Busch Gardens Summer Nights, Summer of the Soul Franklin Street Block Party at Tampa Theatre, Pop Goes America by the Carrollwood Players Theatre, United Bikerz Jamboree at the Florida State Fairgrounds, All American BBQ Festival at T. Pepin Hospitality Centre, 4th of July Freedom Fest at the American Victory Ship Mariners Museum, and more.

Visit St. Pete/Clearwater lists a multitude of holiday events in St. Pete, Clearwater, Safety Harbor, Largo, Gulfport, Dunedin, Treasure Island, and other Pinellas County cities.

Realize Bradenton lists the First Friday Weekend ArtWalk at Village of the Arts, a Mermaid Madness costume party, and fireworks along the Manatee River.

Visit Sarasota lists the Suncoast Summer Fest boat run and celebration, the American Fanfare concert, and fireworks.  

Visit Central Florida lists Rock N’ Freedom Fest in Winter Haven, Red, White & Kaboom in Lakeland, Thunder on the Ridge + Ribs on the Ridge in Haines City, and several other activities in Polk County. 

Happy Fourth! 

Where are you planning to spend the holiday? List the event or gathering (and feel free to include a link) in the Facebook comments below. Thanks for reading and sharing.
 

Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is an award-winning journalist with four decades of experience writing about the Tampa Bay region. She is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society, and serves on the board of The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council and the StageWorks Theatre Advisory Council. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Broadcasting. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Awesome Tampa Bay, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. She lives in South Tampa, is the mother of two adult daughters and grandmother to two amazing grandchildren, and travels whenever possible with laptop in tow.
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