Every year, Americans across the nation celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4 in many ways, all of which could be described as truly American. Barbecue, sports games, family gatherings, live music—and of course—fireworks, it’s a longstanding tradition to share in the festivities to commemorate the first official declaration of our country’s freedom.
The municipal governments of both Marana and Oro Valley know what its residents want when it comes to Independence Day celebrations, and both towns are offering up plenty of ways to have fun next Wednesday.
The Town of Marana is gearing up for one of its biggest events of the year, once which continues to grow and improve every year.
There will be three changes to this year’s Star Spangled Spectacular. Expect expanded shuttle service with three locations, a bag check for public safety and designated smoking areas to keep the general field smoke-free.
“This year is about educating the public, letting them know that we’re being a little bit more strict about what can go into the event,” said Marana Communications Manager Vic Hathaway. “We’ll have check points, trying to limit where the entrances are, and that’s all just for public safety.”
Because the parking lot will be used for vendors, only handicap parking spaces will be open for attendees. But, starting at 4 p.m., folks can catch a shuttle from one of three locations: Coyote Trail Elementary School (8000 N. Silverbell Road), Continental Ranch Community Center (8881 N. Coachline Blvd.) and Twin Peaks Elementary School (7995 W. Twin Peaks Road). Besides the shuttle service, attendees can also park at Arizona Pavilions Shopping Center at 5850 N. Business Park Drive, about a mile away.
With over 15,000 people expected to come out for the fun. There will be almost 30 food vendors, and over 30 non-food vendors. Bookmans is hosting the Kids Zone, where there will be wet and dry inflatables, which kids can use at no charge.
There will be live music to enjoy from Alien Atmosphere, Little House of Funk, Drew Cooper, Silent Rival and Steff and the Articles. DJs from local radio stations will emcee the event. And, as usual, an Uncle Sam stilt walker will be in attendance.
And the town is asking that attendees leave dogs at home. That way, we all won’t have to hear them when the fireworks go off and they start howling.
And perhaps most important—the Hensley beer garden will have two lines this year—which means only half the wait to get beers in time for those red, white and blue fireworks at 9 p.m. So bring a chair or blanket to enjoy the show.
The Town of Oro Valley will once again host its Fourth of July celebration at Naranja Park this year. According to assistant recreation manager Nick Scala (who’s been tasked with managing the event), this year’s Independence Day festivities can be described as “bigger and better.”
In its second year at the park site, Scala said staff have been excitedly planning this year’s event for weeks—if not longer—in order to provide residents and their guests with an afternoon and evening full of fun, food, games, music and, of course, fireworks.
The Fourth of July celebration kicks off at 5 p.m. at Naranja Park (810 W. Naranja Drive) and will include all of the inflatable obstacles, games and activities as last year, with a few additions. Chief among the new attractions are 30 inflatable, transparent plastic orbs which attendees may don and bounce around in. Think Zorbing and you’re heading in the right direction. The town has also partnered with a professional photographer to provide a photo booth complete with a green screen. Local business Lucky Cat Social Art will also sponsor arts and crafts projects. Strictly for adults, the Oro Valley Sports Alliance is sponsoring a beer and wine garden. Tickets to the garden cost $6, or $20 for four tickets.
Attendees will also be permitted to bring their own shade canopies to the event for use in designated areas, so long as they bring their own stakes.
As for food, the town is partnering with nearly two dozen local food trucks to provide plenty of options.
A man who spends much of his time planning events and working on parks and recreation initiatives, Scala said he’s excited for one of the largest gatherings of the Oro Valley community throughout the year.
“It’s really exciting to see so many people within our community come out and have fun and celebrate the Fourth of July,” he said. “Specifically with Naranja Park, it’s a really beautiful location with the mountains as a backdrop and being a little elevated—I think its provides a perfect site for a special celebration like this.”
Scala said there’s something for everyone at the Fourth of July celebration, which means everyone from toddlers to grandparents will find plenty of fun.
“I think that there’s really something for everyone, whether you just want to come out and eat and hangout on the lawn…or if you’re a young kid who wants to run around or play in the inflatables,” Scala said. “If you want to have a beverage and watch some live music, that’s an option. It’s just a very special thing, and we recognize that. That’s why we spend so much time planning and trying to provide the best possible event that we can.”
While Naranja Park will have roughly 1,000 parking spaces available on-site, about 7,500 people are expected to attend. The town has devised a way for attendees to skip the traffic lines via a free shuttle service. Air-conditioned coaches with and plenty of storage will transport from the Oro Valley Marketplace (12155 N. Oracle Road), located on the southwest corner of North Oracle and East Tangerine roads.
The pick-up/drop-off area is the dirt lot to the west, just after entering the Marketplace from the Tangerine Road entrance. Shuttle service will begin at 4:30 p.m., and attendees will be able to depart and return throughout the event; however, the last bus will leave from the Marketplace at 8:30 p.m. so that attendees arrive in time for the 9 p.m. fireworks show.
Once the show concludes around 9:30 p.m., buses will bring attendees back to the marketplace. While the entire family is welcome, the town asks that attendees leave pets at home.
Elsewhere in the town, The Oro Valley Aquatic Center (23 W. Calle Concordia) will host a Fourth of July celebration from noon to 4 p.m. The Overlook Restaurant in the Oro Valley Community Center (10555 N. La Cañada Drive) will host a barbecue dinner from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.
This story was written by Logan Burtch-Buus and Danyelle Khmara.