There’s certainly no lack of fun to be had in Newport Beach on Independence Day, or what is more frequently referenced as the 4th of July.
However, before we start talking star-spangled fun, a primer on the history of our great country’s history is in order, especially after recently watching a beloved news personality conduct man-on-the-street interviews, only to find that there are a lot of folks out there who love 4th of July hotdogs and fireworks, but are a little fuzzy on the reason behind all the celebrating.
For the record, July 4th has been an annual federal holiday in the United States since 1941, but the tradition of Independence Day celebrations harkens back to the 18th century and the American Revolution (1775-1783).
In June, 1776, representatives of the 13 colonies then fighting in the revolutionary struggle deliberated a bold resolution that would declare their independence from Great Britain. On July 2nd, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later, its delegates adopted the Declaration of Independence, drafted by Thomas Jefferson. It was to become one of the most famous historic documents in the world.
On the date of its approval, July 4th was scrolled onto the fancy, handwritten copy (on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.), which was actually signed that August. Nevertheless, when original printed copies of the Declaration were circulated throughout the new nation, July 4th remained the date on the document, and the rest is history. In reality, if we were to celebrate the actual date of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we’d be donning red, white and blue each year on August 2nd.
From 1776 until the present day, July 4th has been celebrated as the birth of American independence, with typical festivities ranging from fireworks, parades and concerts to more casual family gatherings and barbecues.
With that little bit of housekeeping done, let’s talk about the options for celebrating America’s independence around Newport Beach.
Topping the list is Independence Day on the Back Bay, a day of food and family-friendly entertainment at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina. From Noon to 10 p.m., kids and adults alike will enjoy a wide selection of activities and events, including live entertainment featuring KC & The Sunshine Band, food trucks, a Kids Corral with inflatable water attractions, craft stations, face painting, snow cones and water balloons. The day crescendos to a massive fireworks show, complete with patriotic musical fanfare. NewportDunes.com
For all you boating enthusiasts in the audience, you’ll want to show your patriotism on the water, as you cruise the harbor in red, white and blue. Decorate your craft, small or large, and join in the Old Glory Boat Parade, which is California’s largest and one of the nation’s longest running patriotic boat parades. Sponsored by the American Legion Yacht Club and American Legion Post 291, the festivities kick-off with a pancake breakfast at the Legion hall, later followed by a BBQ lunch and dinner from Noon to 5 p.m., with live music and dancing from 1-5 p.m. The parade begins around 12:30 p.m. off Collins Island and continues around Newport Harbor, with more than 100 bedecked vessels participating. Watch the parade from any of the harbor’s public beaches, docks and boardwalks or waterfront restaurants. AL1291.com
On the Balboa Peninsula, the 44th Annual Mariners Independence Day Parade & Celebration continues its long tradition of friend-and-fundraising for a great cause. Held in conjunction with Mariners Elementary School Foundation and the City of Newport Beach, the day begins with a fanciful bicycle parade down Mariners Drive. Back at Mariners Park, the community is invited to enjoy a slew of games, food, entertainment and attractions, with proceeds from the event going to support Mariners Elementary School. The event accounts for approximately 10% of the foundation’s annual funds, so join the fun, show your support and celebrate the 4th all at the same time! MarinersFoundation.com
The City of Newport Beach hosts the Newport Peninsula Bike Parade and Community Festival on July 4th. Participants are encouraged to decorate bikes, scooters, wagons and strollers and to bring their dogs on leashes. The bike and dog parade begins at 9 a.m. at Balboa Blvd. & 38th Street Park and heads down Balboa Blvd. to Channel Place Park for a free festival, including carnival games, giant slides, jump houses, arts & crafts, and food for sale. Visit the Recreation and Senior Services Department at NewportBeachCA.gov/July4
Though portable barbecues are not allowed on any city beaches, there are fire rings and public barbecues available near the Balboa Pier and at Corona del Mar State Beach on a first-come, first-served basis. NewportBeaches.gov
As always, business, community and visitor safety is top priority during the 4th of July in Newport Beach. So, not to put a damper on the celebrations, in case you’re wondering, fireworks are most definitely not allowed. In Newport, it is illegal to possess or use fireworks, even the “safe and sane” versions like sparklers and fountains, which are available in nearby cities. Leave the pyrotechnics to the pros, please.
It’s also handy to note that starting at approximately 10:30 a.m. on the 4th, the Newport Beach Police Department will be closing particular streets, including southbound Orange Street at West Coast Highway, as well as Via Oporto, from Via Lido to 32nd Street. Street closures will remain in force until the early morning hours of the 5th. There will also be a “Safety Enhancement Zone” in the area, bounded by the Pacific Ocean on the south, 32nd Street and Newport Blvd. on the east, W. Coast Hwy. on the north, and 54th Street on the west. This zone designation is strictly effective from 12:01 a.m. on July 4th until 3 a.m. on July 5th. In addition to enhanced enforcement throughout the city, members of the Orange County Regional Mounted Unit will be on patrol to help ensure a safe holiday for all.
A great way to keep up on street closures, crime alerts and other information is to sign up with Nixle.com to receive real time updates throughout the day.
No matter how you celebrate the birth of our great nation, there’s plenty to do on land and sea here in Newport!