The makings of quite a party are shaping up in downtown Lawrence for this Independence Day.
The Lawrence Jaycees announced Wednesday that they will move the community’s annual Fourth of July fireworks show back downtown so it can be held in conjunction with a new festival featuring food from locally owned restaurants.
“It should be a great place to be on the Fourth of July,” said Rick Bellinger, a member of the Lawrence Jaycees and one of the event’s organizers.
And fireworks will just be part of the fun.
Downtown on July 4 will host the Tour of Lawrence, a new professional cycling event that will race through the main streets of downtown. The bike race also will include a special kids zone that will feature inflatable rides and other attractions near Ninth and Massachusetts streets.
Then at 3 p.m., Lawrence Originals — a group of 16 locally owned, nonchain restaurants — will host a festival in Watson Park that will include food, drinks and live music. The event will run through the fireworks performance, which is expected to begin about 9 p.m.
All in all, several thousand people are expected to be downtown on Independence Day.
“People will be able to watch some racing, listen to some great music, eat some great food, and then watch some great fireworks,” said Bob Sanner, director of sports and conventions for the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau. “And they’ll probably only have to travel about a half-mile, if that, to do it all.”
Fireworks return to downtown after a one year stint at Sesquicentennial Point at Clinton Lake. But unlike past years, Burcham Park won’t be the center of the show.
Instead, Bellinger said the launching area for the fireworks — which is on the Kansas River levee — will be moved closer to the Kansas River bridges. That will allow the show to be viewed from Watson Park and Constant Park, both of which are near Sixth and Kentucky streets.
“Burcham Park is not going to be the place to be this year,” Bellinger said. “There will be a little bit of viewing area at Burcham, but not much.”
Bellinger said the size of the show also may be different this year. He said the group has raised only about $10,000 for the event — with the bulk of the money coming from the restaurant group. Normally, the Jaycees spend about $15,000 on the show.