"Freedom is just chaos, with better lighting." Even if one agrees with writer Alan Dean Foster's assertion, there's hardly cause for complaint. Liberty, bedlam, and the ever-flattering rocket's red glare -- sounds like a party to us.
This Friday, July 4, a score of civic celebrations light up the Valley sky in the name of independence. In the center of the city, the Fabulous Phoenix 4th lets freedom ring throughout Steele Indian School Park, Third Street and Indian School, where local acts including Mogollon and Jed's a Millionaire rock three stages, and a musical tribute to the military culminates in an F-16 flyover. From 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., the free fest also features a children's play area, food vendors and, at 9:35 p.m., a fireworks finale. Free buses shuttle from North Phoenix Baptist Church at Central and Bethany Home, and Park Central Mall at Central and Earll. Call 602-262-4627 or see www.phoenix.gov for more information.
Its choice of opponent makes Glendale's citizenry seem a bit overconfident, but, as they say, all's fair in love and tug-of-war. The annual "Glendale vs. the World" tug-of-war pulls patriots to the city's free Hometown 4th of July Celebration, 7 to 9 p.m. at Glendale Community College, 59th Avenue and Olive. A Luke AFB jet fly-over kicks off a performance by country band Haywire, along with magic, dancing, and free interactive games hosted by the Phoenix Coyotes and Arizona Cardinals. Set for an 8:40 p.m. start, a fireworks show explodes an average of one rocket per second for 20 minutes before the really big bang: a 310-shell grand finale. Call 623-930-2299 or see www.glendaleaz.com/festivals.
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The July 4th Tempe Town Lake Festival loudly lauds liberty at Tempe Beach Park, Rio Salado and Mill, from 4 to 11 p.m. The Groove Merchants lead a live music lineup as the masses mill about the beer garden, food courts and rock climbing walls. An inflatable village and splash playground entertain the young and restless, and a special stage showcases magicians, jugglers, family karaoke and gymnastics demos. At 9 p.m., an 80-by-200-foot wall of water rises from the lake for a patriotic show mixing music, animation, lasers and fireworks. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for children 12 and up; proceeds benefit the Kiwanis Club of Tempe. Call 480-350-5189 or visit www.tempe4th.com.
There's patriotism aplenty at Mesa Community College, 1833 West Southern, where the 43rd annual Mesa 4th of July Celebration sets kids' activities, gymnastics and karate demonstrations to the sounds of the Night Shift Band and East Valley Lamplighters Barbershop Chorus. Gates open at 6 p.m., with a 9 p.m. fireworks show capping off the free festivities (parking is $5). Call 480-644-EVENT.
An F-16 flyover fires up Peoria's All American Festival, starting at 5 p.m. at the Peoria Sports Complex, 16101 North 83rd Avenue. Games, rides, water activities, and performances by the Tina Bailey Band and Young Country precede a 9:15 p.m. fireworks finale. Admission is $5 for adults, free for those younger than 13. Call 623-773-7198.