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Published: Thursday, 7/2/2009

Holiday party lights up downtown

BY RYAN E. SMITH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

What America needs this Independence Day is a party.

Not a political party but an all-out party that will wake the neighbors, blow some speakers, and light up the night like a flickering neon beer sign.

The Blade s Red, White, KABOOM celebration tomorrow and Saturday aims to fit all of those needs. Presented by the University of Toledo, Taylor Auto Group, and WTOL-TV, the event brings together local bands, food from restaurants around the city, an Air Force jet flyover, the Budweiser Clydesdales, and enough pyrotechnics to rattle the heavens.

All the woes facing Toledoans these days won t be able to dampen the July 4 festivities, said Michael Mori, event director and advertising manager for The Blade.

I ve been approached by a number of people who have said ... how excited that they are that something this big is happening in Toledo over the Fourth, he said. If there is one thing that makes us really feel good about living in America, it s the Fourth of July.

The highlight of the two-day downtown event, of course, is the fireworks. Shot off from the International Park side of the Maumee River at 9:45 p.m. Saturday, they will be visible along the riverfront and will be accompanied by music pumped in via WIOT-FM (104.7). Some tunes you may expect America the Beautiful, Born in the USA but others promise to provide a crackle of their own to the night, thanks to Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne.

Focused in Promenade Park, the fun begins tomorrow when a hungry lunch crowd can chow down on treats from more than a dozen featured restaurants as part of Toledo Tent s tastetoledo, presented by the Northwest Ohio Restaurant Association. Mancy s Steakhouse, the Beirut, and Tony Packo s, are among the participants.

There will be new specialty offerings in adult beverages and lower prices overall. Kris Berger Long, executive director for the Northwest Ohio Restaurant Association, said participants were asked to give more at a lower price this year. The cost of items, purchased using a ticket system, will range between $3 to $6.

The most important thing is that they re family-friendly pricing, she said.

While you re eating your food, give a listen to the semi-finalists in The Blade s Battle of the Bands contest, presented by Yark Automotive Group, Best Buy, and UT. The local musicians will perform everything from rock to country on the park s main stage beginning at noon each day. The finalists will perform at the Northwest Ohio Rib-Off in August. Majestic, a Journey tribute band, will cap things off at 9 p.m. on Friday, when entry is free.

On Saturday, festivities continue at noon with more food, music, and a children s area behind the science center formerly known as COSI, but there s no admission charge until 4 p.m. $2 per person for people 12 and up or free if you donate a can of food. There will be a flyover and a visit by the Clydesdales, who ll also stop by tomorrow.

And don t forget about the Mud Hens, who begin a 10-game homestand tomorrow.

We re going to have a big weekend too, said Jason Griffin, director of public relations.

All three games this weekend will have fireworks shot off from Monroe Street near the stadium. That means bonus fireworks for anyone who comes downtown Saturday night the Mud Hens show will either come just before or after Red, White, KABOOM s, depending on how long the game goes.

That s the kind of doubleheader everyone can enjoy.



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