Independence Day celebrations don’t necessarily fall on July 4 in the Northland.
In Camden Point, for example, Independence Day was observed with the annual Freedom Festival on June 25.
And in Kearney, the observance always falls a day earlier with “Celebrate the 4th on the 3rd.”
Starting Fourth festivities a day in advance makes the holiday last longer “to allow people to travel to other family venues, to see multiple shows on different days,” explained Eric Marshall, Kearney park and amphitheater director.
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While participants can spend days taking in Fourth of July celebrations, sponsors of the events say much of the planning takes at least a year.
In Kearney, the musical entertainment for the amphitheater is booked the year before, Marshall said, and the contract for fireworks is bid for five years.
For this year’s celebration, crews have been preparing the park for weeks: “weeding, mowing, watering, checking playground equipment for safety, getting the disc golf course ready,” he said.
Bounce houses for kids have been ordered and reservations for campers have been taken.
Such planning makes for successful celebrations, which lead to bigger crowds and the need for more space.
Kearney’s fireworks display outgrew the football field at Kearney Elementary School and now attracts about 6,000 to the Kearney Amphitheater.
From Parkville’s opening of the July 4th Celebration on Thursday to fireworks displays on the official holiday on Monday, festivities in Clay and Platte counties offer food, fireworks and fun for families.
Kansas City, July 4
Perhaps the most spectacular fireworks display in the season is right on the river, at Berkley Riverfront Park. While not precisely north of the river, it’s close enough — and it draws people from all over the region.
Expect plenty of food and drink, along with music, children’s activities and, of course, fireworks. Admission is $5; children 12 and under are free, as is admission from 4 to 5 p.m. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.
Berkley Riverfront Park is between the Heart of America and Bond bridges.
For more information on parking or musical acts, go to kcriverfest.com.
Gladstone, July 4
It’s an Independence Day under the stars on Monday at the amphitheater in Oak Grove Park at N.E. 76th and North Troost streets.
The celebration begins at 7 p.m. with a concert by the Toni Gates Ensemble. The North Star Community Band performs next and a presentation of the colors precedes a fireworks display at dusk.
Bring blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets. Soft drinks, popcorn and other snacks will be sold at the Gladstone Rotary Club concession stand in the park.
Parking is available at Oak Park High School. Gladstone public safety officers will be directing traffic. Free. Call 816-423-4200.
Kansas City, North, July 2 and 3
It’s a weekend of patriotism on Saturday and Sunday in Kansas City, North.
At 9 a.m. July 2, Shoal Creek re-enactors relive Missouri history at the Shoal Creek Living History Museum at 7000 N.E. Barry Road.
The re-enactors are bringing to life an Independence Day observance for July 4, 1876. Skits throughout the day portray a typical 1876 celebration: a little parade, some speechifying and a picnic. Because it’s a holiday, folks will be dressed in their Sunday best.
The living history museum is a village created of 19th century buildings relocated from area counties to Hodge Park. They include cabins, a retail store, a blacksmith barn, a schoolhouse, a jail, a mansion and other historic sites.
The Independence Day Celebration is free and includes demonstrations, activities, food and craft vendors as well re-enactments from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 816-792-2655 or visit www.ShoalCreekLiving HistoryMuseum.com.
Later in the day, Northlanders can enjoy a musical salute to the country’s freedom at 7 p.m. at Mulberry Lake, 4501 N. Mulberry Drive.
The U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America “Shades of Blue” Jazz Ensemble presents a 90-minute concert of traditional swing, bebop, classical and contemporary jazz, vocal selections and patriotic songs honoring the U.S. branches of service.
Bring picnic dinners, coolers, drinks, snacks, blankets and lawn chairs for the outdoor celebration of the country’s birthday. Presented by Briarcliff Trails of Our Community, the annual show is free and open to the public. Mulberry Lake is located across from The Village at Briarcliff. For more information, visit www.briarclifftrails.com.
On July 3, it’s the annual tribute to military veterans and current members of the U.S. Armed Forces during Patriotic Sunday services at the Northland Cathedral, 101 N.W. 99th St.
The Cathedral Choir and Orchestra will perform patriotic music and J. Lowell Harrup, pastor, will deliver an inspiring message during a combined family service at 10 a.m. in the church’s Family Life Center.
The event is free and open to the public. Dress is casual. Child care is available for those 3 years of age and younger. All military service members are encouraged to wear their uniforms or attire designating their branch of service. Call 816-455-2555.
Kearney, July 3
Celebrate the 4th on the 3rd at Jesse James Park, two miles north of downtown Kearney at 3001 N. Jefferson.
The fun begins at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday with a bounce house, inflatable attractions and other activities for kids. Hot dogs and soft drinks will be sold on site.
Free-will donations will be accepted at the park’s entrance. All proceeds benefit the Kearney Food Pantry.
Switch, a local variety band, will present a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Enjoy musical memories from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s at the Kearney Amphitheater.
Fireworks light up the night sky at 9:45 p.m. To get a good seat for the show, you need to be parked by 9 p.m. Call 816-903-4724 or visit www. kearneyamphitheater .com. Patrons are asked to be self-cleaning and bring trash bags.
Overnight camping is available at the park for motor homes. There is a fee and reservations are required. Call 816-903-4730.
Liberty, July 4
Liberty4thFest opens at 5 p.m. with a beer garden and food booth at Fountain Bluff Sports Complex. Families can enjoy fun activities from 5 to 8 p.m. and live music from 8 to 9:30 p.m. by Noe Palma.
Fireworks begin at 9:45 p.m. at the sports complex located at 2200 E. Old Missouri 210. Call 816-781-5200 or visit www.liberty4thfest.com.
North Kansas City, July 1
Traditional American patriotic music will be performed by The Blue and Gray Brass Brigade at 11:30 a.m. on Friday in the Macken Park Festival Shelter at 29th and Iron streets.
The concert is part of the Free Friday in the Park series. The musicians play tunes from the American Revolution to the War Between the States. Call 816-300-0545 or visit www.nkc.org.
Parkville, June 30 - July 4
The Parkville July 4th Celebration opens at 6 p.m. on Thursday with food booths, commercial vendors and a carnival in the parking lot at the south end of Main Street. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights of the carnival are wristband nights and one fee gets unlimited rides until 10 p.m.
The annual July 4th Celebration parade begins at 10 a.m. on Monday. “United We Stand” is the theme for the parade and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7356 is the grand marshal for the parade.
The post is honoring the 50th anniversary of America’s involvement in the Vietnam War with a special tribute banner to Platte Countians who served and died in the war.
Five sevicemen were identified through the post’s search of military records and other resources: John William Anders from Waldron, Billie Howard Fulk Jr. from Platte City, Garry Lynn Ihrig from Parkville, Larry Lee Miller from Edgerton and Frederick Charles Schmidt from Parkville. Anders, Fulk, Miller and Schmidt served in the U.S. Army; Ihrig served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Parkville post will have two floats in the parade: members of VFW Post 7356 who served in Vietnam will ride on the first float.
At 7:30 p.m., the Parkville Symphonic Band presents its annual Independence Day Concert in the Graham Tyler Memorial Chapel at Park University. Celebrating the nation’s heritage, the band entertains with American music ranging from patriotic marches and songs of bygone times to more recent popular jazz and movie themes.
The band will play medleys of songs from the Civil War and observe the country’s entry into World War I in “Echoes from the Battlefield.”
Other selections include the music of Frank Sinatra, Irving Berlin and Maynard Ferguson.
The rowdy music of “Pirates of the Caribbean” rounds out the mix. The concert is free. Visit www.parkville symphonicband.org.
At 9:45 p.m., fireworks rule the river at English Landing Park. A shuttle will be available from 6 to 11 p.m. to take spectators from Park Hill South High School, South Platte Community Center and Park University to downtown Parkville and back. Sponsored by Main Street Parkville Association. Call 816-505-2227 or visit www.parkvillemo.org.
Platte City, July 4
The Fourth of July fireworks display starts at 9:50 p.m. in the Platte Ridge Park, just north of Platte City at 17130 Missouri 371. Call 816-858-5627.
Smithville, July 4
Prizes await youthful participants in the mini-parade at 10 a.m. Kids are encouraged to decorate themselves, their wagons, tricycles, strollers and any other non-motorized vehicle and show up at the town square across from Nellie’s Sweet Shoppe at 115 E. Main Street.
Cub Scouts will carry the flag and lead parade participants around the block. Judges will award prizes for the most patriotic entry, most original and other creative efforts. All participants will enjoy red, white and blue Popsicles afterward.
At dusk, fireworks burst forth at the north end of the dam over Smithville Lake. The dramatic display includes multicolor fireworks with stars, whistles, hourglasses and butterflies.
Bring lawn chairs and blankets. View the display from the water, from the roadside or from Little Platte and Smith’s Fork parks. Regular parks admission fees apply.
Park anywhere except on the dam itself that night. Rain date is July 5. Call 816-532-3897.
Weston, July 3 and 4
Patriotic festivities begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday in Weston City Park with an old-fashioned ice cream social and a concert in the pavilion by the American Legion Band of Greater Kansas City at 3 p.m. The park is located on Thomas Street just west of Main Street.
The 60-piece band has won national recognition for its performances at public concerts and patriotic events throughout Missouri and Kansas.
Bring lawn chairs or blankets.
At 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Weston hosts a hometown parade with fire trucks, vintage cars, tractors, commercial vehicles, cyclists and other parade participants on Main Street.
From 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., festivities move back to Weston City Park for a community picnic, military recognition, music and children’s activities. Lunch will be sold or you can bring your own. Call 816-640-2909 or visit http://westonmo.com.