Archive for Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fourth of July events build new tradition

June 16, 2010

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Come Celebrate

9:30 a.m.: Racing starts for the Mass Street Mile

11 a.m.: Free kids bike race

12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Tour of Lawrence’s downtown bicycle criterium.

4 p.m.: The Lawrence Originals/Give Back Food Festival

9:45 p.m.: Fireworks set to start

Things you should know: The day’s races will start at 9th and Massachusetts streets. The festival will be held at Watson Park. To accommodate pedestrian traffic between the outdoor aquatics center and the park, Seventh Street between Kentucky and Tennessee streets will be closed.

With more than 20 local food vendors, four bands, a beer garden and plenty of activities for the kids, one Lawrence group hopes that celebrating Fourth of July in Watson Park will become an annual tradition.

Last year was the first time a group of Lawrence restaurants — known as the Lawrence Originals, which are connected to the Lawrence Give Back program — set up shop in the park just west of downtown. The hope was to bring the community together to sample local fare, then watch the fireworks. More than 5,000 people came.

“Everybody had such a great time last year and it just seems like such a great event,” said Constance Wolfe, who coordinates the Lawrence Fireworks Festival.

This year, food vendors will again line the park offering barbecue, pizza, Asian, Italian and American cuisine. It makes sense, Wolfe said, to celebrate independently owned businesses on Independence Day.

While many Lawrence residents were happy to see the fireworks display return downtown last year, some complained about not being able to see parts of the firework show. The high-flying fireworks were in clear view of those perched on the park’s grassy field, but the ground fireworks were blocked by trees.

This year the Lawrence Jaycees, the group that puts on the display, will shoot the fireworks from a different spot and use fireworks that will fly higher in the air.

“I think we cleared out all the bugs,” Wolfe said.

Even before the Lawrence Originals/Give Back Food Festival kicks off, downtown will be busy.

In the morning, the community is invited to participate in running the Mass Street Mile, a mile race for runners down Massachusetts Street.

Later in the day, the Tour of Lawrence will hold its downtown bicycle criterium between Seventh and Tenth streets.

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