Wednesday, Jul 02 2014 05:53 PM

Have a blast at city park's fireworks show

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BY KELLY ARDIS Californian staff writer

Not in the mood to spend a small fortune on personal fireworks to set off in the middle of your neighborhood? Want to see something bigger than a handheld sparkler light up the night sky this Fourth of July?

The Fourth at River Walk on Friday, back for its third year, will feature live music, children's activities and, of course, a large fireworks display.

Related Info

Third annual Fourth at River Walk

When: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday. Live music starts at 6 p.m.; fireworks start around 9:15 p.m.

Where: The Park at River Walk and Bright House Networks Amphitheatre, 11200 Stockdale Highway.

Admission: Free; additional fees for bounce houses, face painting and other children's activities.

Food: Food available for purchase or bring your own. Bringing alcohol is OK, but it must be poured into a plastic cup after obtaining a day permit onsite.

Parking: The River Walk parking lot will be open but will fill fast. The vacant lot at Stockdale Highway and Buena Vista Road, across from the park, will be open for overflow.

Organized by Bakersfield's Recreation and Parks Department and AEG, the company that runs the city-owned entertainment venues, the event is free and open to the public.

It was first created to fill the hole left when the Bakersfield Fire Department and Bakersfield College ended their annual fireworks show, said Dianne Hoover, director of the city's Recreation and Parks Department.

"We were all talking about it, the lack of a public fireworks show," Hoover said of herself and other city employees. "Bakersfield College usually did a big event, so when we learned that they weren't going to ... we thought, 'Why don't we do something and start a tradition (at River Walk)?'"

The event is sponsored by Dignity Health and Bright House. The sponsorship is crucial to making Fourth at River Walk what its organizers want it to be, said Ed Dorsey, a city employee who works with AEG.

"Without Dignity Health, we don't have a show," Dorsey said. "They make it all happen."

Local bands Foster Campbell & Friends and Right Cross will perform before the fireworks begin.

Food will be available for purchase from Uncle's BBQ, Carney Kettle Korn and Shaved Ice, Brazilian Hot Dog and Sol Y Luna Mexican Cuisine. Guests can also bring their own picnic dinner.

Alcoholic drinks require a day permit, which can be obtained onsite. Glass is not allowed.

The first Fourth at River Walk, which didn't have fireworks because there wasn't a sponsor, attracted around 2,000 people, Dorsey estimated. Last year's event, the first with fireworks, drew around 8,000. Dorsey expects this year's attendance to be similar to last's.

Because of the large numbers, parking could be a challenge. Dorsey and Hoover encourage attendees to carpool or bike to the Park at River Walk for the event.

Both said there are plans to expand the Fourth at River Walk little by little each year. Dorsey said he hopes to have more vendors and bigger bands at future events.

That's not to say they're dissatisfied with the festivities this year, though.

"It's going to be a lot of fun," Hoover said.

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