Festivals

City of Houston Will Have Fireworks, But Wants You to Watch from a Distance

Big crowds will be absent from this year's Freedom Over Texas.
Big crowds will be absent from this year's Freedom Over Texas. Photo by Richard Carson
The city has canceled the annual Freedom Over Texas event they hold every year in downtown Houston due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. This was not unexpected given the state order mandating no crowds larger than 100. Freedom draws thousands of Independence Day revelers each year.

But, the city is keeping the fireworks display. They just want you to watch it from a safe (social) distance.

"The city of Houston will celebrate freedom this year, but out of an abundance of caution during the COVID-19 pandemic, we want people to stay home and watch the fireworks," said Mayor Sylvester Turner via a press release. In addition to the ability to watch on TV and the internet, this year's fireworks promise to go higher than normal — up to 800 feet — so they will be viewable from a much greater distance.

As a result, many of the streets in and around downtown will be closed on Saturday. This includes Allen Parkway between Taft and Bagby, Memorial Drive between Shepherd and Bagby, the Sabine Street Bridge and entrance ramps into downtown from Interstate 45.


The best views of the fireworks downtown each year are typically from areas in and around Buffalo Bayou Park. You can still access it via walking and biking, but no doubt police will be out to disperse larger crowds given the city's recent dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases since Memorial Day and ICU facilities at local hospitals going over 100 percent capacity this week.

Of course, personal use of fireworks is prohibited inside the city limit, but you'd never know it based on how many of them we see going off in area neighborhoods each year despite the increase in fires around the same time as well.

Hopefully, this year, the emergency room won't be filled with idiots who lit themselves on fire trying to blow up their mailbox. God knows, there will be more than enough sick people there already. Stay safe.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke