City, county and others are joining forces to host community fireworks show and celebration in central Lawrence

photo by: John Young/Journal-World File

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

After last year’s fireworks show was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, several community partners are joining together this year to host a July 4 celebration that will include live music, food and a fireworks display over central Lawrence.

The City of Lawrence, Douglas County, the Lied Center, Lawrence-Douglas County Public Health, and LMH Health have partnered for the event. The Lawrence Jaycees, who have been conducting the local fireworks show for decades, will launch the fireworks beginning at 9:45 p.m. from the University of Kansas Shenk Sports Complex at 23rd and Iowa streets, and the nearby Lied Center, 1600 Stewart Drive, will host festivities ahead of the fireworks show and serve as a main area for watching the display.

This is the first time fireworks have taken place at this location; in recent years, fireworks have been launched from North Lawrence with festivities in Burcham Park. Lawrence Parks and Recreation Director Derek Rogers said this year’s more centralized location should allow the show to be seen from a wider area throughout both the city and county.

“I think that area really lends itself to a lot of viewing,” Rogers said.

People may park in the Lied Center’s parking lots and view the display from that location, but that is not the only option. Rogers said various areas and businesses along 23rd Street and Iowa Street would also be prime viewing locations, and that Holcom Park, 2700 W. 27th St., provides another good vantage point.

As part of the celebration leading up to the fireworks show, bands will perform live music outside the Lied Center and concessions will be sold on the center’s main plaza. Lied Center Executive Director Derek Kwan said live music would begin at 7:30 p.m. and will include performances from Ellie LeBar and the duo Spencer & Rains. He said KU Memorial Unions would begin selling concessions by 7:15 p.m., including hot dogs, chips, cookies and bottled beverages.

Kwan said that based on the fireworks launch location, the Lied Center parking lot would be a prime viewing spot.

“We invite the community to join us in the parking lot to enjoy the music and fireworks show that evening,” Kwan said.

Rogers said that the show should last about 40 minutes, and a detailed traffic and parking plan would be released at a later date. He said if the event has to be canceled because of weather, the rain date would be July 5.

Rogers said the event required $15,000 in funding and that the cost would be divided among the partnering organizations. He noted that the partners include members of the Unified Command, which coordinated the community’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to celebrating Independence Day, Rogers said he saw the event as a celebration of the efforts by the partners and local residents in the face of the pandemic.

“We have so many other things to celebrate as a community,” Rogers said.


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