Guide to celebrating 4th of July

City issues guidelines for enjoying the festivities
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Photo by iStock

Grand Rapids’ 2023 Independence Day celebrations will start off with a bang Saturday July 1, with an annual fireworks display.

One Grand Rapids tradition that’s stood the test of time will celebrate in another way.

On Tuesday, July 4th, Michigan’s longest-running Independence Day parade, the 89th  Hollyhock Lane Parade, will take place in the historic Ottawa Hills Neighborhood.

For nearly ninety years, the parade has been a tradition.

Participants line up at 8 a.m. and the parade begins at 8:30 a.m. Ceremonies following the parade are held in Hollyhock Lane between Calvin and Giddings Avenues. According to the Ottawa Hills neighborhood association website:

“A great jazz combo, coffee and cookies for the adults and popsicles for the kids, cash prizes for the best kids’ floats, some patriotic sing-alongs and a short address on an appropriate topic provide an opportunity for neighbors to gather, chat and reflect on the real meaning of the day.”

While the Hollyhock Lane Parade and other nearby communities, like East Grand Rapids will save the fanfare for the actual Fourth, the City of Grand Rapids has decided to concentrate the main event the weekend preceding the July 4 holiday. The Grand Rapids Fireworks, presented by Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort will light up the skies downtown on Saturday, July 1. Festivities include live entertainment, which kicks off at 6 p.m. at Ah-Nab-Awen Park and includes food vendors and vendor exhibits. The family activities continue through 10:30 p.m. and the start of the fireworks display.

Mark Washington
Mark Washington

“The City of Grand Rapids is proud to once again support the annual fireworks event downtown,” City Manager Mark Washington said. “Community events such as this add to our city’s vibrancy. We are excited to be a part of this great community celebration that is free, accessible and fun for all.”

This year’s event focuses on celebrating family, freedom and community.

“The Grand Rapids Fireworks is a great way for us to focus on the things that are important to us as an organization in addition to showing our commitment to Grand Rapids and all of West Michigan,” Raul Venegas, executive director of marketing, entertainment and sales for Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, said. “Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is one of Michigan’s premier entertainment venues with gaming, concerts and a waterpark. We hope everyone plans to make the short drive and visit us soon! We are looking forward to providing another great event for the West Michigan community, and we’re excited to present a fireworks display with an amazing finish.”

Russ Hines, CEO for Riverbank Events and Media looks forward to sharing fun, freedom and friendship with others at the Grand Rapids Fireworks.

“It’s exciting to bring all of West Michigan back to downtown Grand Rapids as a community to give families a place to enjoy and celebrate our Nation’s independence,” Hines said.

Downtown Grand Rapids, Inc. downtown ambassadors will be available to offer visitors directions and information about events, places to eat or other assistance (to request assistance, dial (616) 250-8263 to reach the ambassador on duty).

The city has noted the following guidelines for enjoying the festivities:

  • No alcohol allowed at this family-friendly event – this includes social district cups.
  • Leave large coolers and bags at home. All coolers and bags are subject to search by security and the Grand Rapids Police Department.
  • No pets are allowed in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, Pearl Street Bridge, Bridge Street Bridge, Blue Bridge or 6th Street Bridge viewing areas.
  • No bikes, scooters, mega/blow horns, smoking or glass bottles are allowed in the above-mentioned areas.
  • No fireworks or sparklers are allowed on any public property, sidewalks or streets. This includes in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, Pearl Street Bridge, Bridge Street Bridge, Blue Bridge and 6th Street Bridge viewing areas.
  • No weapons (pocket knives, firearms, etc.)
  • No solicitation or un-permitted vending

Plan your visit

  • Road Closures: The Fulton Street W, Pearl Street NW and Michigan Street NW bridges will close at 8:25 p.m. The I-131 Pearl Street exit will close at 9:10 p.m.
  • Parking: There is ample accessible parking in all City ramps and lots and available parking throughout downtown Grand Rapids. Visitors should check out the Interactive Visitor Parking Map outlining parking locations. Mobile GR’s parking locations and customer assistance center are open 24/7. It also offers free 24/7 courtesy service (616-456-3290) if one encounters a dead battery, runs out of gas, is locked out, has a flat tire or lost the location of their parked car. Street parking is free after 6 p.m. Please be aware of no parking and loading zone signs. Don’t store valuables in parked vehicles.
  • Park and Ride DASH: The City offers $4 all day parking with Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) service into the Downtown area, passing every stops every 15 minutes from
  • Area 7 ($4 full day) – 301 Mt Vernon Ave NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Area 9 ($4 full day) – 250 Seward Ave NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Micromobility options: The City of Grand Rapids’ Lime e-scooter and e-bike share options will shut down at 4 p.m. and are not allowed in Ah-Nab-Awen Park, Pearl Street Bridge, Bridge Street Bridge, Blue Bridge or 6th Street Bridge viewing areas. Scooter/bicycle safety tips:
  • Don’t ride on sidewalks. Always ride WITH other traffic
  • Obey the rules of the road as any other vehicle operator, including all traffic signs, lane markings and signals, and use hand signals to indicate turns, slowing or stopping
  • Wear bicycle helmets and reflective clothing
  • Ride predictably and defensively, and do not ride while drunk, impaired or distracted
  • Always yield to pedestrians

Safety in crowds:

  • Be patient and courteous. With thousands expected within a relatively confined space, please be courteous of fellow attendees, make room for those arriving to view the fireworks, and be patient of pedestrians and fellow-commuters traveling to and from the event in walkways, parking areas and roadways.
  • Stay Alert. Be aware of your surroundings and others around you. Don’t be distracted by your phone or by listening to headphones. Avoid walking alone. Try to walk in a groups whenever possible. Don’t carry/display valuables.
  • If you see something, say something. Please call 911 if you see suspicious activity or behavior that is out of the ordinary or threatening. Tell the dispatcher your location, what happened, if anyone is injured, and any other information you may have. GRPD will have additional officers on patrol and officers assigned specifically to the park and viewing areas if you need assistance.

Reminder: Unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, Grand Rapids ordinances prohibit minors from a being on a public street, highway, alley or park between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., for minors under 12; 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., for minors under 15; and Midnight – 6 a.m. for minors under the age of 17.

For complete rules on celebrating Fourth of July in Grand Rapids, visit 4thofjulygr.com.

 

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