Tuscaloosa Amphitheater hosts Fourth of July Celebration on the Riverwalk eventBy Aaron Bonner and Serena Bailey | 07/01/2016 10:19am
Local food, fireworks and water features – this year's "Celebration on the River" will bring new activities to the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.
The Celebration is a yearly event taking place on July 4th, featuring a variety of activities including a concert by by the Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, a fireworks show and contests.
The concert this year will consist of a selection of patriotic music including the “Armed Forces Salute,” “God Bless the USA” and the “1812 Overture.”
After the concert, the celebration will end with an almost 30 minute long fireworks show.
“You can see if from the amphitheater but you can also see from around downtown if you’re anywhere close, looking towards the amphitheater,” Becky Booker, the Public Relations and Marketing Manager for PARA, said. “It’s going to be the best fireworks show in West Alabama.”
Christy Bobo, the City of Tuscaloosa Arts and Entertainment Manager, said that this year’s fireworks show would add in something new.
“They’re called ‘big shots,’” she said. “And the timing of them is a little more scheduled so that there’s kind of more stuff going faster and there aren’t as big gaps of time in between each shot.”
This year’s Celebration on the River will also cater to a younger crowd, with the opening of the PARA Kid’s Zone. The area will include caricature and balloon artists, face painters, inflatables and Zorb Balls, large, clear orbs that people climb into. This year will also host three water features.
Booker described the event as having a “carnival-like atmosphere” with “a little bit of something for everybody.” Because of the water attractions, Booker encourages attendees to bring a towel or a change of clothes with them to dry off before the concert at 8 p.m.
“It’s a good chance for family and friends to come together,” Booker said. "They get exposure for the symphony and then we do all the fun stuff so it’s a good chance to come out."
Bobo expressed a similar sentiment, saying that aspect of the celebration is one of her favorites.
“You can bring your children, you can bring your relatives, you can bring your friends and come into the amphitheater,” Bobo said. “It’s absolutely free. Our mayor and city council do this to give back to the community and it’s certainly a time where you can come into the amphitheater and not have a ticket. You just come in and enjoy the symphony orchestra.”
Lanny Holbrook, a Tuscaloosa resident, has lived in the area since 1992 and has attended previous celebrations before the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater was constructed. He said that while the locations have changed, the experience has been different each year.
"One of the first couple that we did on the Fourth of July had a barbecue contest that was happening at the same time, so it was an extremely large crowd and a lot of activities," Holbrook said. "They did a show, before the amphitheater was built, so it was on the west side of the Lurleen-Wallace Bridge and it was a good 30-minute long show."
Over the years, Holbrook has attended several other of the events at the Riverwalk. Throughout the years, the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater has added in live music and more child-friendly activities to add more entertainment than a standard fireworks show.
"We had decided to stay to the east side a little more, before they had built the apartments that are near the Amphitheater now, so we parked at a credit union parking lot and set our chairs," Holbrook said. "We were about a quarter of a mile away from the launching area, but it was still really nice."
The Celebration on the River will kick off at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on July 4th, starting at 6 p.m. The event is free to all.