Downtown Akron is hosting its second big party in less than two weeks.
This one is to celebrate the nation’s independence, with fireworks beginning at 9:45 p.m. Monday.
And the number of folks who converge on downtown to see the Fourth of July fireworks could exceed the roughly 30,000 who showed up for that earlier bash — the one to celebrate hometown superstar LeBron James and his role in the Cavaliers winning the historic NBA title.
The crowd for the fireworks display “could rival the LeBron celebration, or maybe get a little higher,” said Tish Jernigan, downtown operations manager for the city of Akron.
“But people will be more spread out,” she said, noting “LeBron won’t be on stage” at Lock 3 Park.
The Akron RubberDucks minor league baseball team for the third consecutive year is teaming up with the city for the fireworks. The RubberDucks will play at home Monday, with the game beginning at 5:35 p.m., and those attending the game are invited to stay at Canal Park stadium and watch the booms.
The game — in which the RubberDucks take on the Altoona Curve —s hould wrap up around 8:30 p.m. Members of the RubberDucks organization will entertain fans at Canal Park with contests and giveaways between the game’s end and the start of fireworks, RubberDucks spokesman Adam Liberman said.
The fireworks will again be set off from the city-owned building at 80 W. Bowery St., near Lock 3, giving those at Canal Park and Lock 3 — as well as at many other spots downtown — a good view.
This year’s display is scheduled to run 12 minutes. Last year’s display ran about 10 minutes and felt a little rushed, Jernigan said.
The same amount of fireworks, are planned.
“We’ll slow the fireworks down a little so hopefully we can have the music [a patriotic soundtrack],” she said.
Akron is contributing $12,000 to the fireworks, and the RubberDucks are contributing $5,000, as in previous years, Jernigan said.
At Lock 3 on the Fourth of July, the music will begin at 4 p.m., with Alex Bevan taking the stage. He will be followed by the Freedom Brass Band at 6 p.m. and the Akron Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m.
Event ends with bang
The fireworks will cap the city’s four-day Rib, White and Blue! festival, which runs Friday to Monday on South Main Street between University Avenue and Bowery streets downtown. Twelve vendors from seven states will offer ribs. Other concessions will be available. Tribute bands will perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Lock 3.
Admission will be free all four days (you pay for the food); festival hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Tents with seating will be set up on South Main Street. Attendees also can sit on the lawn or picnic benches at Lock 3 Park off South Main and in its inside area, the Commons.
Parking is free after 6 p.m. and on weekends at city-owned parking decks and lots. Handicapped parking is available at the State Street deck, which has an elevator to the Lock 3 level, or at Cascade Plaza. For details on the rib fest and the city’s July 4 fireworks display, go to http://lock3live.com.
Beginning Friday, Metro RTA is offering free bus rides every Friday through July and August. Free fares are applicable on line-service routes only. Normally, passengers pay $1.25 per ride. A one-day pass costs $2.50.
Also at Canal Park stadium, the RubberDucks will host the first of two movie nights Saturday . The animated hit Minions will be on the screen. Gates open at 5 p.m. The movie is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Tickets are $5, with proceeds benefiting Hattie Larlham, an area nonprofit that serves people with developmental disabilities. Go to www.akronrubberducks.com for more information.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.