Celebrating life in the "Land of the Free" takes on a new meaning with all of the freebie (and almost-free) Independence Day events going on around the Valley. Just don't forget that in the "Home of the Brave," you can keep all 10 of your fingers and leave the blow-away pyrotechnics displays up to the experts.
Downtown's Fabulous Phoenix 4th celebrates that über-American ideal, "bigger is better," with its fireworks show, promoted as the largest in the Southwest. Expect three stages of live bands, dozens of food vendors, rides and a Water Play Zone for children. Go ahead and crash this party, because it's free. (So are parking and shuttle service.) Everything takes place from 4 to 10 p.m. at Wesley Bolin Plaza, located at 15th Avenue and Washington. Fireworks start at 9:35 p.m. To find out more, call 602-534-FEST (3378).
Another gratis shindig happens at Glendale Community College, located at 59th Avenue and Olive. Glendale Hometown 4th of July starts early with free swimming at the GCC pool, starting at 1 p.m., followed by patriotic festivities from 7 to 9 p.m. at the GCC stadium. F-16s from Luke Air Force Base will fly over to open the evening celebration, which will also feature live country music, food and rides. Fireworks begin at 8:40 p.m. Call 623-930-2299 for more information.
Chandler's Old Fashion Fourth of July boasts two stages of live music, arts and crafts, food, a car show, bike parade and children's rides. This gloriously free festival starts at 4 p.m., with fireworks scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Dr. A.J. Chandler Park, 3 South Arizona Avenue, hosts the event; call 480-782-2735 for details.
Mesa's Independence Day Celebration promises children's rides, a live concert from Nightshift Band and the 108th Army Band, and a 9 p.m. fireworks display. Gates open at 6 p.m. at Mesa Community College, located on the southeast corner of Dobson and Southern. Admission is free; parking is $3. For further details, call 480-644-2352.
Peoria's All-American Festival isn't free, but parking is. The $5 admission charge for anyone age 13 or older (kids under 13 get in free) includes musical entertainment from Good-to-Go and Vigilante, a swimsuit-worthy water zone to keep things cool, games and rides. Gates open at 4 p.m. and the fireworks extravaganza starts at 9:15 p.m. Located at the Peoria Sports Complex Mariners Practice Field, 16101 North 83rd Avenue. Visit www.peoriaaz.com or call 623-773-7198 for more information.
And if you're trying to forget that you're in the middle of the desert just for a moment head down to Tempe Beach Park, located at Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway, for the Tempe Town Lake Festival. From 4 to 11 p.m., there will be live music from local country, Latin, R&B and reggae bands, activities at the "splash playground," a display from United Phoenix Firefighters, and a kids' zone. Naturally, there will also be food and drink. Admission is $8, $5 in advance (from Safeway stores), and free for children under 12. The SRP Fireworks Spectacular which illuminates both sky and water starts at 9 p.m.