Phoebe Suy, Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Instead of docking boats along the Neches River or spreading blankets out in Riverfront Park, Fourth of July revelers will watch the area’s largest fireworks display next month from the Downtown Event Centre and Lake — a first in the event’s 32-year history. The city is relocating the patriotic party this year because Riverfront Park is still closed because of damage sustained during Tropical Storm Harvey.
Despite a change in location, “the event will be bigger and better than before,” promised Emily Wheeler, marketing division manager for Beaumont’s event facilities department.
Since the Event Centre is “a cornerstone of activity in downtown,” Wheeler said it seemed like a good fit for the festivities, which will include food, fireworks, live music and a laser show. Attendees can spread out on blankets or in chairs on the center’s Great Lawn, she said.
“I think people really like to be in that area, it’s progressive and new,” Wheeler said, pointing to the facility’s busy schedule, which she said has been booked two years out since it opened in 2012.
Live music will start at 5 p.m. on three stages. Booked acts include the Cool Breeze Band, which performs R&B hits, and Briana Adams, who promises a Waylon Jennings, Lynyrd Skynrd and Janis Joplin fusion performance.
The Symphony of Southeast Texas will take the stage at 8 p.m. and perform a program, touted as “a sensational salute to our nation’s past,” for a little more than an hour, said Douglas Fair, SOST’s executive director.
The performance will run “right up until they start shooting fireworks,” he said. “That’s our cue to stop.”
Fair said it will be a change for the group’s 70 members, who are used to playing inside the Julie Rogers Theater before the annual fireworks show. He admitted it was likely going to be hot for the musicians out in the “dry heat,” but said they’d be ready to put on a great show.
Prior to the fireworks show, revelers can look forward to a Laser Show on the Lake, according to the city’s event schedule.
The fireworks display will be launched around 9 p.m. from an area near the Great Lawn, Wheeler said, ensuring attendees the “best view in town.”
Although folks might miss the atmosphere or nostalgia of Riverfront Park, Wheeler said she still expects “thousands of people” to turn out again this year.
All parking in downtown is free, Wheeler said, and several lots around the Event Centre should be enough to accommodate the Fourth of July crowds.
“We’ve had Fourth of July (festivities) for many, many years,” said Chris Boone, the city’s planning and community development director. “It’s one of many events the city puts on to try to encourage people to come downtown.
“The City of Beaumont has “invested quite a bit in that area,” Boone said, pointing to the Beautiful Mountain Skate Park, Centennial Playground and the soon-to-open Lakeside Center for seniors.
With the City of Beaumont working with consultants to repair and possibly enhance Riverfront Park, Boone said he could eventually see the Fourth of July event moving back to its traditional venue.
32nd Annual City of Beaumont Fourth of July Celebration
When: 5-10 p.m. July 4
Where: Downtown Event Centre and Lake, 700 Crockett Street
More: Local food trucks will be on site. Lawn chairs, blankets and coolers are permitted but are subject to search. No outside alcohol may be brought in to the event.