The Rapidian

Fourth of July organizers explain variety of offerings, encourage safety

From annual fireworks to the longest continuously running neighborhood 4th of July parade in Michigan to a beer pong tournament, Grand Rapids has a variety of options this Independence Day.
Children line up to participate in the Hollyhock Parade in Ottawa Hills neighborhood

Children line up to participate in the Hollyhock Parade in Ottawa Hills neighborhood /Courtesy of Hollyhock Lane Parade

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Further event information

Triangle Tavern Beer Pong

10 p.m. - 2 a.m.

$1.75 Busch Light pints

21 and over welcome

1200 Walker Ave NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49504


Hollyhock Lane Parade

Info about the Parade


Front Row for the Fireworks

Members: $10/adults; $5/children 3-17 years

Non-members: $15/adults; $7.50/children 3-17 years

Children under 3 are free

272 Pearl St NW

Grand Rapids, MI 49504



4th of July firework display

4th of July firework display /Steven Depolo

On Wednesday at approximately 10:30 p.m., the annual fireworks display presented by Amway will light up the sky in the heart of Grand Rapids to honor the nation’s 236th birthday. The event is expected to bring a large crowd downtown, and as with any large event safety becomes an important factor.

“This place becomes a nuthouse, so people need to remain patient,” states Ed Kettle, 4th of July executive director. “After the fireworks there’s no quick and easy exit. The best way to maneuver around the city is to go and enjoy downtown, maybe grab a bite to eat or a drink and wait for the crowd to disperse,” he adds. Staying aware and making sure to hold onto children are also ways to make the event safer and more enjoyable for individuals planning to attend, he says.

This year Amway is launching fireworks from two locations: the Gillette Pedestrian Bridge and Bridge Street Bridge to bring the public an even bigger performance.

Popular locations for the best view of the fireworks include the Blue Footbridge and the banks along the river. In the past these spots have filled up quickly, so individuals hoping to claim a spot should prepare to arrive early. 

The Grand Rapids Public Museum is also opening their doors to individuals who are looking for a prime space for the spectacle. “Front Row for the Fireworks” begins at 7 p.m. and provides carousel rides, planetarium shows and food along with a great view for a cost of $10 for members and $15 for non members. People can choose to watch through the windows of the museum, step out onto the walkway by the carousel or even sit out in the lawn area.

For people over the age of twenty-one looking for a fun event before or after the fireworks, the Triangle Tavern (corner of Walker Avenue and Garfield Avenue) will be hosting its weekly beer pong tournament. The friendly competition, says Carol Parsaca from the Triangle Tavern,  gives individuals the opportunity to get out of their seats and meet other people and also to play for a cash prize that is awarded to the winning team.

“This event is free. Beer pong does not involve actual beer in the cups (it’s water) so it’s meant to be a fun activity that encourages all ages to participate. The Triangle Tavern does not charge cover or any participation fees for its events. We want you to relax and have fun in our family owned, quaint atmosphere,” says Parsaca.

The tavern is open until 2 a.m. so individuals have time to stop by after the fireworks are finished, or can even choose to watch the show from the front of the building.

Individuals can kick off Independence Day festivities at 8:30 a.m. by attending the 78th annual Hollyhock Lane Parade. The event, which is organized completely by volunteers, began in 1934 and is now attended by all types of people who come together to celebrate a tradition and the independence of the nation.

“Once you go, you just come back,” says John Westra, fifty year attendee and parade unicycler. Westra has been riding his unicycle in the Hollyhock Lane Parade for thirty-nine years, and even took leave from the Air Force in the past to come home and attend the event. “My goal is to ride for fifty years,” he says.

The parade marches for six blocks starting at Calvin Avenue and Alexander, and winds around Ottawa Hills before ending up in Hollyhock Alley where the top three floats are awarded, refreshments are given out and the celebration continues.

“There’s no government bureaucracy, it’s just pure patriotic celebration,” states Westra.   

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