What could be better than a three-day weekend, smack dab in the middle of the summer season?
Fireworks all over the area, a weather forecast that promises to be appropriately shorts-and-tank-tops hot, the smell of grilled food punctuating the air with its pungent seductions, icy beverages, friends and family coming in from all over, and a chance to take a breather knowing the year is half over.
Did we mention it's a three-day weekend?
With the Fourth on Monday this year, the summer's big celebration to honor the country's birthday -- 235 years if you're counting -- is an extended picnic. With that in mind, here's some stuff you need to know for the next few days, including a run-down of fireworks displays in the area.
Weather.com's forecast calls for the potential of scattered thunderstorms Friday and Saturday because it's going to be hot and muggy and we all know what that can mean in this area: big boomers that roll in quickly. But Sunday and Monday -- when most area fireworks occur -- look dry and hot.
Not to be a buzz-kill, but with fireworks going off everywhere, especially the back yard displays, grills burning all over the place, and people partying, things can go very wrong. The U.S. government has a pretty good safety Web page at http://1.usa.gov/MVeSS that covers fireworks, barbecuing, and other Fourth of July activities.
And if you don't have Web access, the advice can be summed up simply: use common sense. Don't toss lighter fluid on a grill that's already hot. Make sure you keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Don't sit your coolers in the sun if there's shade nearby. Be extra careful if you're messing around with fireworks. And if you feel compelled to drink a few alcoholic beverages, make sure there's a designated driver available or you have a ride home.
What's goin' on
The big Kahuna of fireworks/Fourth celebrations will the three-day Red, White, KABOOM event in downtown Toledo. The fireworks will be Sunday night along the Maumee River.
The event runs Friday through Sunday and will include a show Friday by Frontiers, a Journey tribute band, a Saturday concert by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Sunday's 3 p.m. pre-fireworks concert by Alexander Zonjic and Friends.
A 5K heroes Run and 1K Walk will take place downtown Saturday to raise money for Heroes In Action, a military support outreach group that provides financial assistance, communications, care packages, and encouragement to current and former service members.
A number of other activities will occur over the holiday weekend, including a Kids Zone, Toledo's Top Talent Show, a dodgeball tournament, and, of course, wiener dog races.
Admission fee to Red, White, KABOOM is $3 per adult and kids 12 and older after 4 p.m. on each night.
The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo is presenting the works of visual artists that will be for sale during the event. Everything from jewelry to paintings, fiber art and other media will be offered.
Red, White, KABOOM is sponsored by The Blade and others, including Taylor Automotive Group, Humana Inc., Mercy Health Partners, and Dashing Pacific Group Ltd., which is the company of Chinese investors that bought The Docks in East Toledo and that plans to purchase the Marina District.
Some other area fireworks displays and events include:
Bedford Township -- Fireworks will be at dusk July 9 with events starting at 6 p.m. with Walk Bedford from White Park to Indian Creek Park. The fireworks show will be at the Bedford Community Stadium at 8285 Jackman Rd.
Bowling Green -- Fireworks Sunday at the BGSU Stadium and Intramural Fields starting at dusk.
Findlay -- Entertainment and fireworks at the Hancock County Fairgrounds Sunday, with gates opening at 4 p.m. at the Fishlock Avenue entrance. Fireworks will begin at dusk.
Fremont -- The firing of Civil War cannons punctuates a patriotic concert by the Toledo Symphony Concert Band as the Hayes Presidential Center celebrates the Fourth of July with an outdoor Independence Day Concert at 2 p.m. Monday. Admission to the concert is free.
Luna Pier -- Fireworks hosted by the fire department beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Maumee -- The celebration begins at 5 p.m. Sunday at East Wayne and Conant streets with food and entertainment. Fireworks will be launched from the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge beginning at 10 p.m. The rain date for fireworks only is Monday. Perrysburg and Maumee share a fireworks display from the Maumee-Perrysburg Bridge.
Monroe -- The 13th annual River Raisin Independence Festival begins at noon Sunday at Sterling State Park with fireworks at 9:45 p.m.
Oregon -- Oregon's Independence Day festival, "Boomfest" is Sunday at Oak Shade Grove, 3624 Seaman Rd. A car show will be from 2 to 6 p.m., live music will start at 3:30 p.m., and food and drink concessions will be available all day. Fireworks will be after dark.
Perrysburg -- The Star Spangled Banner Celebration will be Sunday beginning at 4 p.m. with family events, activities, and rides. Fireworks will be visible from the Maumee-Perrysburg bridge beginning at 10 p.m. The rain date for fireworks only is Monday. A national salute and drum music will be held at Fort Meigs at 2 p.m. Monday.
Port Clinton -- Fireworks will begin at dusk Monday along Perry Street.
Swanton -- A celebration will be held at the Swanton High School football field starting at 5 p.m. Sunday. Festivities include carnival attractions, food, games, door prizes, raffles, and a fireworks display.
Sylvania -- The "Star Spangled Celebration" is Sunday at Centennial Quarry & Terrace. The event from 7 p.m. to midnight will feature live music, dancing, clowns, children's activities, and refreshments, with fireworks starting at 10 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Parking at Centennial is $5 per car. Information: 419-882-1500. The rain date is Monday.
Wauseon -- The city will have a number of activities Friday at Dorothy Biddle Park, including a tribute to the military, a kite-flying competition, and live music. Free hot dogs, popcorn, and drinks will be offered starting at 5 p.m. The tribute to active military and veterans will begin at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free. There will not be fireworks.