Freshly fried food and loud music took over the Toledo waterfront yesterday afternoon as Independence Day festivities at Promenade Park got under way.
At the first day of The Blade's Red White & KABOOM Fireworks and tastetoledo, families lounged on the grass as children danced to the beat and couples, young and old, enjoyed the mild weather and tasty munchies.
"The music's really good - a little loud, though" said Christine Wilson, 55, of Whitehouse as she prepared to dig into a cup of Fat Fish Blue's gumbo. "It's nice that Toledo has something going on."
Longtime festival attendees said they liked the waterfront location, calling it a nice change from Jackson Street, where the festival was held prior to last year. Restaurant owners said it is much more organized.
From chicken kabobs to crab rangoon to cheesecake to Cold Stone Creamery's Chocolate Devotion, there's food to please many palates at tastetoledo this weekend.
Lynn Wang, a manager at Tea Tree Asian Bistro in Perrysburg, said she liked this year's two-entryway setup and the fact that the restaurants' booths are upwind of the tables and the stage. She added that the Tea Tree Bistro prepared slightly different foods than last year.
"Last year, we had more sophisticated offerings," she said of the seaweed salad, scallops, and edamame it sold in 2008. "This year we have a lot more fried food, a lot more finger food [that's] easy to eat."
She said it was too early to tell whether this year's sales would be better than last year's.
At La Scola Italian Grill, operating partner and chef Chris Dewart said he came to the festivities prepared to run a streamlined operation with two fewer staff than he did last year, which was the restaurant's first at the festival.
Triston Acevedo, 6, digs into Original Gino s Pizza at tastetoledo in Promenade Park yesterday.
He said he decided to do the festival again for the exposure and that he hoped to break even after the two days.
"It's a lot of work to do an event like this," Mr. Dewart said. "But I've met a lot of potential customers who like what they've tasted and want to know where [the restaurant] is located."
For many of the teens working at the festival, the afternoon was spent taking in the music while raising money.
Chelsea Williams, Julia Kohler, and her sister, Colleen, are working at the soft drinks booth both days of the festival to raise funds for their church, St. Joseph Parish in Maumee.
They said they really liked the music so far and looked forward to pizza from Original Gino's Pizza and Mancy's Steakhouse fries.
The food and music festival continues today. Food items are between 3 and 6 tickets; each ticket costs $1. Admission is $2 for those 12 and older after 4 p.m. but free for those who bring a canned good. Fireworks are set for 9:45.
Celebrate Independence Day in downtown Toledo with The Blade s Red, White, KABOOM event.
• Featured: A Family Fun Area in Festival Park at the Imagination Station, Taste Toledo, beverage stations, a U.S. Air Force flyover, Battle of the Bands, and of course, fireworks at 9:45 p.m. shot off from the International Park side of the Maumee River.
• When: Noon to 11 p.m.
• Where: Promenade Park off Summit Street along the Maumee River.
• Cost: Free until 4 p.m., then $2 for those 12 and older or free with a canned good.
The Red, White, KABOOM fireworks celebration will be simulcast on FM 104 and streaming on WTOL.com. But it s not the only fireworks downtown tonight because the Toledo Mud Hens also will have post-game fireworks from Fifth Third Field.
For more information, go to www.toledoblade.com/red white kaboom.