Weather permitting, brilliant bursts of fireworks will illuminate the skies around the Tucson valley to celebrate America's independence.


Independence Day is next Thursday, promising pool parties, light shows, and barbecues in honor of the nation's birthday. Here are some highlights to help you plan your celebration.

Get a fast start

Start the holiday with the Fifth Annual Fourth of July 5K Freedom Run/Walk.

This run, which starts at 6:30 a.m., benefits the Kick Cancer for Stephen Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting research to find a cure for childhood cancers, including Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, and providing activities for teenage patients in the hospital (more at

The event will be held at the Golf Links Sports Complex Ramada #3, 2400 S. Craycroft Road. On-site registration starts at 5:30 a.m. next Thursday, or register online at through 5 p.m. Tuesday. The cost is $30.

Everyone loves a parade

Smokey Bear and the Mount Lemmon fire department are among the favorites already signed up for the traditional July 4 parade in Summerhaven, said parade organizer Jennifer Shacter. State Sen. Gail Griffin is this year's grand marshal and organizers expect 30 entries.

The procession starts at noon where Turkey Run Road meets Sabino Canyon Parkway. Come early because the main road will close by 11:30 a.m. and parking will be limited.

Rockin' Star Ranch will host a petting zoo and pony rides near the Music on the Mountain venue, and the Tucson Community Band will help start festivities with an 11 a.m. concert at the Mount Lemmon Community Center, 12949 N. Sabino Canyon Parkway.

It's Shacter's third year coordinating the event, and she recalls when hot, dry conditions led to canceling the parade three years ago.

That year, she said fire restrictions had shut down campgrounds before the event.

"Those of us who had been through the Aspen Fire decided 'we can't risk this'," she said.

This June marks 10 years since that blaze burned 85,000 acres in the Santa Catalina mountains.

For information on fire conditions visit:

A show of freedom

Catch the 29th annual "Let Freedom Sing" concert presented by Arts Express on the University of Arizona campus.

The Dixie Cats and Big Band Express will join the choir for the second year.

"The theme this year is 'From Sea to Shining Sea'," said Karen Wiese, the choir's executive director, "so we'll be playing music from across the country."

The show goes on at 3 p.m. at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Admission is free, but a $10 donation is suggested. Reserved seats are $20 at or 319-0400.

Catch a movie or two

Get in the indie spirit with an American classics marathon on the big screen and food trucks in the parking lot at The Loft Cinema.

"Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" starts at noon, $6; "Jaws" at 3 p.m., $6; and "The Team America Sing-A-Long and Curse-A-Thon!" at 6 p.m., $8.

There will also be Eegees drinks - both regular and "alcohol-leaded."

The Loft Cinema is at 3233 E. Speedway. More at

Take a road trip

The city of Bisbee hosts its annual Coaster Race at 8 a.m. down Tombstone Canyon, which is Main Street in downtown.

"It's been a tradition since 1914," said Ilona Smerekanich, the city's tourism manager. Each year about 30 people hop into their homemade cars and ride the force of gravity for 1 1/2 miles through the center of town.

After the race, around 11 a.m., the Warren area hosts what Smerekanich calls an "all-American parade." The route ends in the Brewery Gulch district of Historic Bisbee, where a mucking and drilling contest - a nod to Bisbee's mining history - gets underway.

Smerekanich said contestants will "see how fast they can shovel rock or sand from one place to the other."


The Tubac Presidio State Historic Park is hosting an Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration that includes free hot dogs, watermelon, and a summer "squirt-down." The festivities take place from 10 a.m. to noon at 1 Burruel St. Later in the afternoon, festivities start at the Tubac Golf Resort & Spa, 1 Ave de Otero Road.

Family activities start at 4 p.m., with face painting, an obstacle course, dancing, Clydesdale wagon rides and lots of food booths.

And, of course, there will be fireworks. The resort puts on a display at 8:45 p.m. Debi Crossland, the catering coordinator, said when she saw them for her first time last year, she was dazzled.

"There was this big extravaganza and we thought it was the finale," she said, "But then another one would go off, just as great or better, and it just went on and on. We could not believe it."

Parking is $7 per car, and food booths and activities might have their own costs. Bring cash (there is an ATM in the lobby).

Patio viewing is available with VIP tickets ($48), which includes parking, dinner, two drink tickets for the cash bar and live entertainment in the air-conditioned ballroom.

Reservations are required for VIP; make them at 398-3531.

overnight stays

Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive, is hosting a Red, White & Blues Laser Light Show for guests and country club members. Summertime rate specials will be offered.

"Last year, unfortunately because of our dry weather, we had to cancel the fireworks show," said Kimberly Schmitz, the resort's spokeswoman. "So the whole premise this year is the show will go on."

Activities begin at 10 a.m. including animal exhibitions from the Reid Park Zoo, and poolside music later in the day. The pool party is also a chance to show off the property's rejuvenation, which includes the 177-foot waterslide, she said.

For the holiday, Azul Restaurant is offering a prix fixe menu ($35; $12 children up to 12, excluding tax and gratuity) or the U.S.A. Buffet ($25; $12.50 kids 6-12; free for 5 and under. Cost includes tax and gratuity.) and offer patio viewing for the light show, which starts at 9 p.m.

For a full schedule or to make reservations, contact Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa, 1-888-627-7201, or visit


If a resort sounds fun, but a shorter stay is more your style, Hacienda del Sol, 5501 N. Hacienda del Sol Road, is hosting a "Red, White & Brew" celebration at its newly-renovated pool.

Entry is $20 ($12 for ages 7-14, 6 and younger are free) and includes all-you-can-eat barbecue and hot dogs for the kids, along with music by Rafael Moreno.

Beer from breweries Ten Fifty-Five, Dragoon, and Old Bisbee is $3, and margaritas $6.

Festivities start at 6 p.m. Call 529-3500 for details. Special room rates are available.

"We haven't had a Fourth of July celebration in a couple years," said Karin Farrell, a resort liaison. But with the resort turning 85 next year, she said the timing was perfect to start the birthday celebrations with the birth of the nation.


The Ritz-Carlton at Dove Mountain, 15000 N. Secret Springs Drive in Marana, is also getting into the act with a weekend of activities and wine and dining specials

Kick off is next Thursday with the Red, White & Bluegrass Barbecue Buffet ($44; $22 age 12 and younger excluding drinks, tax and gratuity). Fireworks start around 8 p.m.

Festivities continue through Saturday with drink specials, outdoor activities and dining for kids, and pool time with the waterslide and a dive-in movie.

For reservations call 572-3000, or

Fireworks basics

All fireworks depend on weather conditions.

"A" Mountain: Start time is around 9:15 p.m.

Watch from the Tucson Convention Center parking lot "B," off Granada Ave. between Congress and Cushing streets, where food vendors and a beer garden will be open from 7 to 9 p.m. and parking is free. Viewing is also available from the parking lot on the northeast corner of 22nd Street and Interstate 10, or from the city-state parking garage at 498 W. Congress St.

Marana: Fireworks start at 9 p.m. near Arizona Pavilions Drive on Cortaro Road between Interstate 10 and Silverbell Road. "The Sandlot" screens at 7 p.m. in Crossroads at Silverbell District Park, although snack vendors will start at 6 p.m. Parking is free at the park and in the Fry's parking lot on Cortaro and Silverbell roads, and in the general parking area of Arizona Pavillions. For maps or more information, call 382-1946 or visit

Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way: Fireworks begin after the last out of the Tucson Padres game against the Las Vegas 51s, between 9 and 10 p.m. More fireworks follow the July 5 game as well. Parking is free, gates open at 5:30 p.m. next Thursday, and 6 p.m. July 5. Tickets are $5-$15. More at 434-1367 or

Starr Pass Resort & Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.: Fireworks begin at 8:30 p.m. from the resort's golf courses. Property parking is limited to guests, but the show is visible from surrounding areas. More at 792-3500.

take a walk with Fido

Give a shelter animal a little liberty next Thursday by taking part in the July 4 Independence Day Walk at Pima Animal Care Center.

The shelter is closed for the holiday, but volunteers are needed to take dogs on a stroll or jog around Silverbell Lake, and cuddle cats. The walk starts at 8 a.m.

RSVP to by Tuesday to let the center know you're coming. Participants must be at least 16 and should bring a picture ID.

Learn more about volunteering at an open house from 11 a.m. until noon.

There also will be adoptions from 1 to 3 p.m. with a $13 adoption for adult dogs and cats, in honor of the nation's first 13 colonies.

The center also needs donated blankets or towels.

Protect your pets

Squeals, flashes and booms of fireworks can be very frightening for animals.

Pima Animal Care Center recommends not sharing the experience with your animals if you're going to see the fireworks. They'll be more comfortable in familiar surroundings with soothing music playing in the background.

Make sure all outside gates are latched. And if your pet does happen to escape in a panic, make sure to check with our shelter, as well as with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.