Fireworks - check. Patriotic music - check. Picnic opportunities - check. Parades and festivals - check. Pinellas County will mark Independence Day 2015 with a variety of celebrations. Even before the sun goes down and fireworks light up the twilight skies, festivities will be underway.
The Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the document in which American colonies effectively declared independence from Great Britain. Each year, Americans celebrate Independence Day with festivities ranging from fireworks and parades to picnics and concerts - as well as more casual family gatherings and barbecues. Following is a summary of some planned Pinellas events:
GULFPORT - Tickets for the seventh annual Gecko Ball will go on sale Saturday, July 4. This year’s ball will be celebrated with a theme of “Gecko Gras!” on Saturday, Aug. 29, 6 to 11 p.m., at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom, 5500 Shore Blvd. S., Gulfport.
Mardi Gras will be the order of the evening, including its pageantry, dancing, New Orleans-style music, food and more. Attendees can expect to experience over-the-top revelry and costumes, including outrageous headdresses, glitter, a rainbow of make-up, wigs, feathers, masks, beads and baubles, kings and queens, clowns, jesters, geckos, and a host of other fantasy-inspired creatures amid a kaleidoscope of colorful décor. Ball-goers are encouraged to develop costumes relating to Mardi Gras, or geckos, or a creative combination of the two. A dancing costume parade and contest will help decide some of the best outfits at the ball.
DUNEDIN - Beauty queens, food, music and games for the kids are all part of the schedule Saturday, July 11, at the sixth annual Dunedin Orange Festival.
For the first time, the festival in Edgewater Park next to the Dunedin Marina will feature the Ms. Orange Festival Pin-up Girl Contest. The competition is designed to evoke “the glamour and class of Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable,” the Dunedin Historical Museum, organizer of the event, said in a statement.
ST. PETERSBURG - St. Petersburg’s Second Saturday ArtWalk will be presented Saturday, July 11, 5 to 9 p.m.
Attendees will have an opportunity to meet the artists and gallery owners during this casual, festive evening as more than 40 studios and galleries, in the Waterfront Arts District, Central Arts District, EDGE District, Grand Central District and the Warehouse Arts District come together as one arts destination.
TAMPA - The Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa will offer Bay area residents and visitors the opportunity to experience autonomous vehicle technology, in addition to drones and robots this summer in a hands-on, interactive way.
Guests can ride in a driverless vehicle, fly commercial drones and code robots all summer long at MOSI.
TAMPA - The newest female offspring at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is not a princess, but she is receiving a royal welcome. A southern white rhinoceros was born May 21 to first time mother “Alake,” originally from the Phinda Reserve in Africa.
The newborn marks the fourth successful southern white rhino birth and the seventh rhino born in the Zoo’s history (four African, three Asian).
Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Rhino Taxon Advisory Group, which includes the southern white rhino Species Survival Plan, designed to support conservation of select wildlife species at risk of extinction. The newborn introduces new DNA into the genetics of the managed population in North America.
ST. PETERSBURG - The Morean Arts Center is in search of St. Petersburg’s best cupcake.
The contest will be presented Saturday, Aug. 15, noon to 3 p.m., at the Morean Arts Center Galleries, 719 Central Ave. A $15 entry fee allows each participant to enter one submission. A minimum of six delicious cupcakes is required for entry so that the judges can taste each submission.
“I loved this event from the start, because it provided both novice and professionals to showcase his or her talents in a way that St. Pete had yet to experience before,” said Valerie Knight in a press release. Knight is a past contestant, winner and judge.
TAMPA - Thirteen years ago, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo introduced Wallaroo Station, a 4.5 acre Australian-themed family area, where thousands of families with young children have enjoyed an interactive Australian adventure.
The hands-on, family-friendly features helped the Zoo secure top honors from two national parenting magazines: Parents, “10 Best Zoos,” (2009); and Child, "The 10 Best Zoos for Kids" (2004).
Earlier this year, Wallaroo Station temporarily closed for remodeling. It is the first significant updating of this award-winning attraction in its 13-year history. Newly re-opened for spring, guests to the “new Wallaroo” can expect this Aussie area to be even more “Auss-ome” with new animals and upgraded amenities, including:
LARGO - Beginning in May, a monthly class in the fine art of black pot cooking will be offered at Heritage Village. The classes, running through October, will teach participants the entire process from creating an amazing meal to cleaning it up.
Each class will last approximately three hours, with the variety of dishes created being shared and enjoyed by the entire class. Each class is limited to 10 participants. Classes must have a minimum of five participants to take place. Early registration is suggested. Each class should be registered for separately and individuals must register at least two weeks before the class is scheduled to take place.
DUNEDIN - The Dunedin Blue Jays will feature 21 promotional nights throughout the 2015 home season, which begins Friday, April 10, against the Clearwater Threshers at 6:30 p.m., featuring fireworks and a magnetic schedule giveaway presented by Budweiser.
four fireworks shows will be held during the season. Fans can enjoy several theme nights during the summer months. Superhero fans are all welcome for Superhero and Scout Night at Florida Auto Exchange Park on Saturday, May 9, presented by TD Bank. Princesses, pirates and dinosaurs alike will have their time at the park as well.