Columbia's 4th of July celebration hopes to attract over 20,000 people

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COLUMBIA - The ongoing downtown construction, road closures and a drizzle of rain have not stopped people from going to the City of Columbia's 65th annual Fourth of July celebration. The firework show will begin at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday off the top of the Sixth and Cherry Street parking garage. 

Superintendent of the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, Karen Chandler, said the city expects to welcome between 20,000 and 30,000 visitors, and the event is free to attend.

“It is a wonderful show,” Chandler said. “It is about 20 minutes long.”

Chandler said the event will allow Columbia residents to watch the fireworks legally. According to a press release from the Columbia Police Department, a city ordinance prohibits the discharge and possession of fireworks within the city limits.

Starting around 6:30 p.m., visitors can find a variety of food trucks on the downtown streets, while patriotic music will kick off the night with live performances by local bands in Peace Park and Flat Branch Park. Chandler said the city also set up a few inflatable obstacle courses and other crafts activities at both parks.

Columbia resident Bernie Eskridge has visited the event for the past seven years.

“It’s a little bit safer than doing the big fireworks at home,” Eskridge said. “So coming out, letting somebody else do it for ya.”

Eskridge said his children have always had a good time at the event.

“They climb on top of the car,” Eskridge said. “We park on top of one of the garages. And they have a really good time seeing all of the fireworks.”

Eskridge said his family has been looking forward to this year’s show, and a little rain wouldn’t scare them away.

“We have umbrellas,” Eskridge said. “That’s our backup plan.”

Chandler said a number of local businesses are sponsoring the event, and the total cost is about $27,000 to $30,000. 

“There are people that do come in from out of town, and you know, they come in and visit the restaurants and enjoy the community,” Chandler said.

Chandler said parking is free in any city or MU owned lots and garages during the event. However, throughout the day, some streets and parking spaces would be closed.