Downtown business steps up to organize new July 4 celebration, with promise of larger fireworks show

photo by: John Young

Spectators line the bank of the Kansas River at Burcham Park to watch the annual fireworks show on Monday, July 4, 2016.

As someone who has thrown a few parties, Mike Logan, owner of The Granada, knows that increasing the fireworks budget is never a bad plan. The Granada owner indeed has taken over as the organizer of the community’s Independence Day celebration, and he’s promising a larger fireworks show.

Logan said the budget for the fireworks show is being increased to $12,000, up from $8,000 a year ago.

“They’ll be bigger, and they are going to go higher,” Logan said. “We are trying to incrementally increase the budget.”

Logan only became involved with the Independence Day event in May, after it became clear that previous organizers weren’t going to be able to commit the time to pull off a July 4 event. So, in comes The Granada, which is a longtime bar, dance club and concert venue at 1020 Massachusetts St.

But don’t worry, you don’t have to go to a dance club to celebrate Independence Day. The Lawrence Fourth of July celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on July 4 at Burcham Park along the banks of the Kansas River.

There will be no admission charge to enter, although there will be multiple vendors selling food, beer and other items. The event also will feature several music acts, buskers, a DJ, and a large kids zone with a bouncy house and other inflatable attractions. A shuttle service from the library parking garage near Seventh and Vermont streets will take people to Burcham Park, which is better known for its great views of the river than its ample parking. The park also is a short walk from downtown, via a city of Lawrence path that starts in Constant Park at Sixth and Kentucky streets.

Other details for the event are still being worked out and will be announced on the event’s website, LawrenceGoFourth.com.

Right now, Logan is just trying to get more corporate sponsors to ensure the event will be first class. Ranjbar Orthodontics has signed up to be the presenting sponsor, which has helped to make the fireworks show larger.

Free State Brewery also has signed up to be the beer sponsor, and several food trucks and restaurants have agreed to participate, including Drasko’s; G’s Jamaican Cuisine, Mad Greek, Mr. Bacon BBQ; La Parrilla, Torched Goodness and others.

The July 4 event (July 5, if it rains) will cap a wild one-week period for Logan and The Granada. The business is putting on three major events in six days. The Granada once again has received city permission to shut down the portion of Massachusetts Street in front of The Granada to host a pair of outdoor concerts. On June 29 the “Live on Mass” concert series will feature The Wailers, a reggae band made up of the remaining members of Bob Marley’s old group. The Wailers drew about 7,000 people to downtown last year as part of the concert series.

On July 3, another Live on Mass event will feature Split Lip Rayfield, the Wichita-based bluegrass and alt-country band.

Logan is hoping plenty of people will decide to make a midweek vacation (July 4 is on a Wednesday this year) to take in the concert and stay an extra day for the fireworks. Creating events, especially during Lawrence’s slower summer season, is becoming a bigger part of The Granada’s business plan.

“This is what we want to do outside our four walls,” Logan said. “We want to build these destination events that people will travel to. We want events that cause people to tell folks to come to Lawrence.”

The July 4 event is still evolving into that type of event, Logan said. He said he believes there have been four organizers for the event in the last seven years. Logan said he hopes to bring some continuity to the event.

“The Granada got really involved with the Free State Festival a few years ago, and that helped us see the value of producing major events in urban spaces,” Logan said. “We want to build on energy like that.”

Long term, Logan said he hopes May through October becomes known as outdoor event season in Lawrence. He thinks Lawrence could ultimately support about 10 significant events, with maybe even a multiday event at some point.

But Logan cited another reason that he decided to jump in on the Independence Day event.

“I’m a Lawrence kid, and I grew up riding my bike to go watch the fireworks show,” Logan said. “It was great.”

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