Your 4th of July Cheat Sheet

After six years without a single spark, the Rotary Club will bring the fireworks back to downtown San Jose’s annual Independence Day celebration.

Mayoral candidate Dave Cortese first made the announcement in February, taking more than his fair share of credit for the news, when he voted with his colleagues on the Board of Supervisors to chip in $70,000 of county cash to help fund the display.

But that covers only a fraction of the cost, noted San Jose Rotary President Carl Salas, who started planning for the fireworks nearly two years ago. Another $50,000 came from the city and the rest from private sponsorship drummed up by Rotarians who want to celebrate their club’s 100th anniversary.

The club, one of the oldest and most active service organizations in San Jose, says the fireworks are a gift to the public and a diversion to prevent anyone from blasting illegal explosives of their own.

The Rotary Club Centennial Celebration begins at 8pm in Discovery Meadow, at Woz Way and West San Carlos Street. The public is welcome to bring blankets and picnic food, but police will strictly enforce the park’s no-alcohol policy.

Fireworks start after sunset, around 9:30pm Friday.

Below is a full list of other 4th of July celebrations:

Red, White & Blue Parade — The Alameda in San Jose

A revival of the historic Rose Carnival of 1896, the Red White & Blue Parade kicks off at 10am and will feature music, arts and crafts and food.

San Jose Rotary Club Centennial Fireworks — 180 Woz Way, San Jose

Fireworks return to downtown San Jose for the first time since 2008. The Rotary Club is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a free fireworks show in Discovery Meadow, and though the club says this show is a one-time-only event, we have our fingers crossed that this means the return of annual fireworks downtown, one way or another.

Bacon Festival of America — Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, San Jose

What’s more American than bacon? Probably lots of things, but this food truck festival, now in its second year, has moved its date up by a month and in the process now really lives up to its name. Food trucks serving up all things bacon, live music by local bands and a San Jose Made street mart. The festival has also expanded to two days, July 4 and 5. With the fest followed by fireworks on the Fourth, organizers are already advising that July 5 may draw a smaller crowd.

San Jose Giants Fireworks Show — 588 E. Alma Ave, San Jose

The San Jose Giants take the field against the Stockton Ports and a fireworks show follows the game. As of this writing tickets are still available, but they go quickly. Those who don't manage to secure tickets can still see the show from various spots surrounding the stadium.

Santana Row Block Party — 333 Santana Row, San Jose

Designer discounts at a sidewalk sale, plus live music, cocktails and children's activities.

Summer Festival and Chili Cook-off — 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto

Twenty chefs will compete for the chili championship. And for the festival part, there will be live music and entertainment, along with face painting and other activities for children.

Los Gatos Celebrates the Fourth of July — 110 E. Main St, Los Gatos

A patriotic performance from the San Jose Wind Symphony is the centerpiece of this celebration at the Los Gatos Civic Center, which also features a picnic lunch, games and family-friendly activities.

Cupertino Fourth of July — Memorial Park, Stevens Creek Boulevard and Mary Avenue, Cupertino

Cupertino hosts a variety of Fourth of July activities, starting at Memorial Park with a pancake breakfast, flag raising, parade and concert. At night, Blackberry Farm hosts free swimming, a barbecue and live music.

Freedom Fest 2014 — Monterey Road and W. Fourth Street, Morgan Hill

The festival kicks off with a 5k run, with awards given to top finishers and those who participate in costume. For those that would rather push some pedals, the Bike Classic features multiple routes that begin in the morning. Morgan Hill has been celebrating Independence Day with a parade since 1876 and this year is no exception with floats, live music, performances and a huge fireworks display.

Independence Day in Gilroy — 3050 Hecker Pass Hwy, Gilroy

The City of Gilroy celebrates the holiday with a cook-out at Gilroy Gardens. Promised provisions include barbecue favorites like chicken, hot dogs, potato salad and Western-style chili beans.

Fourth of July Parade and Festival — Downtown Redwood City

This 75th annual parade features the theme “Salute to Agriculture.” The parade is paired with the 26th annual Independence Day Festival which covers several blocks in downtown Redwood City. The block party will have entertainment for all ages including arts and crafts, food and a carnival. The Port of Redwood City will hold the fireworks show.

World’s Shortest Parade — 100 Aptos Creek Road, Aptos

Aptos is hosting their “World’s Shortest Parade," which spans just 0.6 miles. But if the parade is short, the day following it is packed with festivities, including a pancake breakfast and a party in the park.

Ardenwood Historic Park — 34600 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont

A turn of the 20th century-style festival, with live patriotic music played by a brass band and fiddle music in the farmyard. There will also be games and contests like watermelon seed spitting, an egg toss and a tug-of-war.

Fourth of July Parade — Fremont

A Fourth of July parade starts in downtown Fremont in the morning, with creative floats, live music and marching and guest celebrities. The parade kicks off with a fly-over from the “Beech Boys” airplanes.

Roaring Camp — 5355 Graham Hill Road, Felton

With a ’50s inspired theme, the festivities at Roaring Camp include hula-hoop contests, games, live entertainment and a barbecue. Both railways will be operating this day with a surprise at each departure.

Alameda Fourth of July Parade — Downtown Alameda

The annual Alameda Fourth of July Parade clocks in at one of the longest in the country, with a 3-mile route traveled by more than 170 floats and 2,500 people. It promises all the parade highlights of equestrians, dance troops, antique cars and live music.


  1. A different kind of cheat sheet.

    Every year my neighbors near Hammer Elementary (or Pine Hill) bring their fireworks purloined from other counties out to set them off. Usually the fireworks come from Gilroy or San Bruno. Mostly safe and sane stuff, but we do get the occasional mortar or two. Plenty of adults around with fire extinguishers and water buckets.

    This year I plan on doing something creative to try and get an accurate count of the amount of ordinance fired off. I have a PVC pipe tower that extends way past my roof. On the end of it, a Shure SM57 mic. 60 or so feet of XLR cable going to a MOTU MKIII Ultralite sound card, and recorded using REAPER.

    I’m planning on recording the sounds this year, then doing a peak analysis so I can count the number of booms. Just want to get an idea of how much is being fired off so I can put a number on how much revenue our local charities are losing with the safe and sane ban.

  2. CORRECTION: For “Los Gatos Celebrates the Fourth of July”
    Beginning this year, this event will be held at:
    Oak Meadow Park*
    233 Blossom Hill Road
    Los Gatos.
    *Please note the venue change.
    Previous years the event has been held at Civic Center.
    This year, the whole event will take place at Oak Meadow Park.

  3. Well..the downtown fireworks had no impact whatsoever on banned, illegal fireworks in the Alum Rock East Foothills! It was non stop for 5 hours! The worst we have ever seen!

    It was announced there would be a strong police presence from the SCC Sheriff. Not much of a deterrent. Think its time for a statewide ban on illegal fireworks!

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