Freedom, Now!

When Mayor Bill White called a press conference to announce Chevy's Freedom Over Texas, the city's big ol' Fourth of July celebration, we were tempted to roll our eyes. Sure, it's cool that native Texans Los Lonely Boys will be headlining the musical entertainment. And yeah, the Bud Light Texas Volleyball Championship Court, which will feature men's and women's statewide tournament finals, should be fun (and eye candy for all). Honestly, though, it sounded like a big corporate affair.

But then White mentioned the Fireworks by Shell program, which will last nearly 20 minutes. Okay, that's freaking long -- explosions lasting for almost an entire Seinfeld rerun. Suddenly this big affair seems apropos for our "everything's bigger here" state. And it is a statewide party: The live concert and fireworks portion of today's downtown celebration will be broadcast in Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, Victoria, Abilene, San Angelo and Harlingen. H-town homebodies can stay on the couch and watch it on KTRK/Channel 13 (as attendance is estimated at more than 100,000). Or you can brave the traffic, dump the rugrats at the All American Kids Zone and get sloshed at the Budweiser Beer Garden. This big, bloated, jingoistic jam kicks off at 4 p.m.; fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Eleanor Tinsley Park at Buffalo Bayou (along Allen Parkway, just west of downtown). For information and a full schedule, call 713-247-3500 or visit $6; free for kids under ten.

Want more boom? Head to Sam Houston Race Park for the Gallery Furniture Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza. Watch the ´works while you patriotically pig out at the Independence Day Buffet. Races begin at 5 p.m. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. 7575 North Sam Houston Parkway West. For information, call 281-807-7223 or visit $1 to $3 admission.

Miller Outdoor Theatre also is bringing the boom with "A Star Spangled Salute," which features Tchaikovsky's rousing 1812 Overture, cannons and a fireworks display over Hermann Park. The concert begins at 8:30 p.m. 100 Concert Drive. For information, call 713-284-8350 or visit Free.

Or, if you're at the beach for the Fourth, hit the "Salute to Hometown Heroes" parade. When the parade concludes, you can enjoy hot dogs and lemonade, as well as some theater: the musicals 1776 and America the Beautiful at Sealy Pavilion. Parade begins at 10 a.m. Galveston Railroad Museum, 123 Rosenberg. For information, visit Free. And before packing up for the mainland, head out to the Seawall for the Galveston Fireworks Spectacular at 8:45 p.m. 37th Street at Seawall Boulevard. For information, visit Free.
Tue., July 4, 4 p.m.


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