More than 20,000 residents of Tucson’s north side gathered to celebrate the nation last Tuesday night at municipal Fourth of July events hosted by the towns of Marana and Oro Valley, the latter hosting its own show for the first time.

Of his seven years sitting in Oro Valley’s top spot, Mayor Satish Hiremath called the town’s event at Naranja Park an “absolute success.”

“We were all pleasantly surprised,” he said. “We talk about the Town of Oro Valley as a place where memories are made, and to see the multigenerational turnout, the families, the individuals part of the ‘I Can, Too’ program, seniors, all in one area—that is reflective of who and what Oro Valley is now.”

The town previously held Independence Day viewing events at James D. Kriegh Park, though decided this year to host its own show. The evening was comprised of a variety of food trucks, local organizations, inflatable amenities for children, lawn games, live music and more. After the sun set, a fireworks show lit up the sky courtesy of Fireworks Productions of Arizona.

“I thought it was one of the better fireworks shows I’ve seen in a while, which was awesome cause they’re my favorite part of Fourth of July,” said 23-year-old Corey Stevenson, who attended the event with his girlfriend and several friends. “I didn’t expect there to be as many people as there were, but it definitely made it more fun. I would love to go back next year.”

Stevenson said he usually enjoys barbecuing with friends and family before enjoying a show from the view of a University of Arizona parking garage, but the multigenerational event left him with a positive impression of Oro Valley.

Several miles over, in the Town of Marana, The Fourth of July Star Spangled Spectacular continued to grow in size and scope since last year’s festivities. While Oro Valley hosted a crowd of roughly 6,000 at Naranja Park, Marana town officials estimate that the crowd eclipsed last year’s numbers at more than 16,000 attendees.  

Marana’s event takes over every usable foot of the 48-acre Crossroads at Silverbell District Park, and included something for everyone. There were two stages of entertainment with a country singer, an alternative pop band, a blues/R&B band and a string quartet. Food vendors were strategically placed all over the park, giving everyone a quick trip for a treat. There were also two beer gardens for adults who wished to partake in a frosty beverage. For the kids, there were a variety of inflatable bounce houses and water slides, a face painter and a stilt walker. 

The night was concluded with a nearly 30-minute fireworks show.  

Though Oro Valley has some ground to make up before its Fourth of July celebration rivals the longstanding Marana event, parks and recreation director Kristy Diaz-Trahan said Oro Valley’s show was a “wonderful success.”

Diaz-Trahan said her favorite part of the event was the moment after the fireworks began and the crowd reacted to the show.

“Seeing people of all ages—families, elderly couples and teens with smiles on their faces, playing games, hanging out on their blankets, cheering, clapping and whistling at the conclusion of the fireworks show—all of these emotions give me confidence that this was a successful event,” she said.

The reaction from the community, staff and elected officials was overwhelmingly positive, but town communications administrator Misti Nowak said the event was also a good opportunity to learn and grow.

“Our planning team will meet in the next two weeks to have a full debrief and talk about what went really well and what needs further discussion to improve it for next year’s experience,” she said. “We also learned that even as a first-year event, that sometimes feels like an uphill climb with hurdles, we have tremendous and talented staff members who know how to make the magic happen at the end of the day.”

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