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Culture » Arts & Entertainment

Go Fourth

Highlights of Utah's Independence Day celebrations

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HILARY REITER
  • Hilary Reiter

The "lost summer" of 2020 didn't stop individuals from celebrating Independence Day, but it definitely meant that bigger community celebrations were shelved. Now here we are in 2021, and these events are (mostly) back again. Here's a roundup of some of the bigger July-4th-observed festivities throughout the state—generally taking place on Saturday, July 3 because the holiday falls on a Sunday—and what you can expect when you get there.

The Gateway Fourth of July. For celebration on the actual Fourth of July, The Gateway in downtown Salt Lake City offers one of the rare Sunday gatherings. The free event kicks off at 5 p.m., with the activities centered around the Olympic Legacy Plaza at the north end of the mall. Two stages of live entertainment will include DJ music, karaoke and a performance by Changing Lanes. Throughout the evening, yard games, face-painting and other family-friendly activities will be taking place, as well as the opportunity to buy from local food trucks and beer from Bohemian Brewery. The fireworks launch at dusk (approximately 10 p.m.). As an added incentive, GreenBike rides to the event are just $1 with a special kiosk code. Visit atthegateway.com/calendars/4th-of-july-celebration-at-the-gateway-2021/ for additional information.

This Is the Place Heritage Park Liberty Day. For a more low-key commemoration, This Is the Place Heritage Park hosts events on Saturday, July 3, beginning with a flag ceremony and salute to America conducted by Sons of the American Revolution. In addition to regular park activities, the day is scheduled to include parades, watermelon-eating contest and a "candy cannon." Visit thisistheplace.org for ticketing and other information.

America's Freedom Festival/Stadium of Fire. Utah County is back to going all-out for a multi-day celebration, beginning with the Freedom Days carnival (July 2-3 and July 5) on Center Street in downtown Provo. Freedom Days includes games, rides, craft vendors, food and live entertainment. The centerpiece Stadium of Fire spectacular takes place on Saturday, July 3 at LaVell Edwards Stadium, featuring music headliners Lee Greenwood and Collin Raye, action sports performance by Nitro Circus, jet flyover, skydivers and more, all leading up to the big fireworks show. On July 4, LaVell Edwards Stadium hosts the first-ever evening Patriotic Service, a free event featuring music and inspirational words. And on Monday, July 5, starting at 9 a.m., the Grand Parade makes its way along University Avenue and Center Street in Provo, showcasing floats, balloons and live performers. Visit freedomfestival.org for full schedule and ticketing information.

Sandy City 4th of July. In pre-pandemic years, Sandy City would host a big all-day event on the Promenade adjoining Sandy City Hall. The 2021 version will be scaled back, with the Promenade hosting the early-morning flag ceremony, 5K run starting line and spikeball tournament. Throughout the day, a scavenger hunt will be taking place at various locations in Sandy, with clues available via the city's official Instagram (@SandyCityUtah). From noon to 8 p.m., food trucks will be available at the Sandy Amphitheater Park, and fireworks will launch at dusk (approximately 10 p.m.). For times and other schedule info not available at press time, visit sandy.utah.gov

Park City. Thanks to individual resorts hosting a range of activities and performances, the July 4th weekend offers a three-day variety of options in Park City beyond the official civic events. More than 70 floats head down Historic Main Street for the Old-Fashioned 4th of July Parade on Friday, July 2 beginning at 11 a.m., with shuttles available from parking at Park City High School to mitigate downtown Park City traffic. The traditional post-parade celebration in City Park will not take place this year; the evening of July 2 will feature the Utah Symphony's Patriotic Pops concert at Deer Valley resort (separate ticketing, visit deervalleymusicfestival.org). On Saturday, July 3, Canyons Village hosts a "3rd of July" celebration beginning at with live music and fireworks, with free admission. And on Sunday, July 4, you can start your day on Main Street at the Park Silly Sunday Market, head over to City Park for the all-day volleyball tournament, and finish things off with a fireworks spectacular at Park City Mountain Resort at 8 p.m. Visit pclodge.com/park-city-2021-4th-july-celebration for additional schedule details.

Many other valley communities are scheduled to host their own parades, gatherings and fireworks displays, including West Jordan (westernstampede.com/parade/), Murray (murray.utah.gov/332/Fun-Days-Activities), Riverton (rivertonutah.gov/towndays/index.php) and Tooele (tooelecity.org/our-community/4th-of-july-celebrations/). Additional fireworks displays may be visible at Lehi's Thanksgiving Point (thanksgivingpoint.org/events/4th-of-july-celebration/). However you plan to celebrate this year, do it responsibly, and please, during this hot, dry year—leave the fireworks to the professionals.