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Grand Rapids festivities to promote community, entertainment for national holiday

The United States turns 239 this Saturday and each community in the Grand Rapids area has its own way to celebrate. The Rapidian breaks down what activities are happening throughout the day and the prime locations for watching the fireworks at night.
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Find Your Fireworks

Check out when and where to find fireworks in Kent County

Celebrating independence and community is the main focus of this year’s Fourth of July festivities around the Grand Rapids area. From Grandville to East Grand Rapids, neighborhoods will hold several events to entertain and captivate people of all ages this Saturday.

As it has for many years, Grand Rapids will hold its main downtown celebration at Ah-Nab-Awen Park beginning at 5:30 p.m. The City, along with Amway and Townsquare Media, organized the festival and plan to bring much to the table, including live music, food trucks and other entertainment. Partnering with Arthur Rozzi Pyrotechnics, a fireworks company, they’re bringing a new component to the fireworks in the evening.

“This year we have some music that they’ve programmed the fireworks around,” says Angela Paasche, the live events manager for Townsquare Media. “You’re going to see a little bit of everything. We like to mix it up with all the fireworks.”

The view from Ah-Nab-Awen Park is the best location to watch them, according to Paasche. It serves not only as a venue for the activities, but as a place to bring the community together.

“It’s a great feel and community vibe down there,” Paasche says. “We would not recommend any other place except that because we want people to come down there and experience it.”

For those wanting to avoid a large crowd downtown, many communities around Grand Rapids will also hold public Independence Day celebrations.

To the southwest, Grandville begins its Fourth of July celebrations with a pancake breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at Grandville Middle School, followed by a parade at 11 a.m. Other events include three on three basketball, chainsaw wood carving, a carnival, food vendors and live music. A fireworks display will begin at dusk at Grandville Middle School, making it the prime place for viewing the show.

Kentwood starts the Fourth off with a five kilometer race and “fun walk” at 8:00 a.m., followed by a parade at 9:30. In the evening, carnival rides, food vendors and live music will be available at Crestwood Middle School, as will the fireworks at dusk.

“The best part is that it brings the entire community together,” says Jen Keith, the recreation program coordinator for the City of Kentwood. “There’s something for everyone in this community. It’s a really fun event.”

Ada’s traditional Saturday events begin with a pancake breakfast at the Ada Township Fire Department from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., followed by a parade at 10 and continue throughout the day with food, music and entertainment. Anywhere in downtown Ada provides a sound view of the fireworks launching from Fulton and Grand River at dusk.  

East Grand Rapids provides the necessary food and entertainment for a Fourth of July celebration, but with some unique activities of its own. Along with the annual Reeds Lake Trail Blazer run at 8:30 a.m. and a parade at 11, a waterskiing show, swing dancing and a daredevil act will perform in John Collins Park in the afternoon. Since the fireworks will be launched over Reeds Lake at dusk, the park makes for a fine spot to watch them as well.

“Everybody and anybody is welcome,” says Susan Perry, the assistant director for East Grand Rapids’ Parks and Recreation department. “It’s a total family-oriented event. We have something for all ages.”

A full list of when and where to find fireworks throughout Kent County is available on the Michigan Fireworks website.

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