By Laurie Jo Miller Farr

Falling on hump day, this 2018 Independence Day holiday is a bit awkward. A one-day holiday landing smack in the middle of the week is certainly tricky and that’s what we’ve got on Wednesday, July 4, 2018. Back in the 1970s, when Congress shifted most national holidays to being observed on a Monday, lawmakers did not tamper with the fourth of July. The San Francisco Bay Area is putting a brave face on the midweek circumstance to show how much can be done with a day off that’s nowhere near the weekend. 

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San Francisco Symphony With Fireworks
Shoreline Amphitheater
One Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 967-4040

On July 4, 2018 at 8 p.m., the annual concert gets underway. It’s a festive outdoor event of hero-themed favorites that are perfect for summer, performed by the San Francisco Symphony led by conductor Edwin Outwater. There’s “Star Wars” music, military-themed favorites and top of the pops hits performed by Broadway vocalist Capathia Jenkins. On the program, classics like Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” The grand finale is an impressive fireworks display. Heads up on traffic, as the venue is big, with a capacity of 22,500, including 16,000 general admission on the lawn.

Calistoga’s Star-Spangled Social
Napa County Fair Association
1435 N. Oak St. 
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-5111

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Come to Calistoga for the annual event that brings together a parade, a carnival and a fireworks display and actually falls on the Fourth of July. For more than a century, Calistoga has been celebrating Independence Day with a bang. Festivities begin downtown at 11 a.m. with the annual parade, a procession of floats, dancing horses and a marching band. Spectators dressed in patriotic gear of red, white and blue join in to make the short trek to the Napa County Fairgrounds where the gates open at 12 p.m. for live music, picnicking, giant backyard games and plenty of carnival rides. As the evening dark falls, all festival goers have front row seats to the best fireworks in the Napa County sky. Admission is $15 in advance ($20 at-the-door) and children under age 5 are free.

Celebration At The Pier
Embarcadero and Pier 39
San Francisco, CA 94133
Bring a jacket. Karl the Fog versus a fireworks display on the Fourth of July in San Francisco normally means that the fog wins. It turns festive sparklers into a muddy, ruddy wash of faint coiors wrapped in low-lying clouds for about 30 minutes and everyone wonders why they came. There’s plenty of traffic, though, so walk to the vicinity of Pier 39 for the 9:30-ish start if you possibly can. The city and county pro teams set off the fireworks from a barge and simultaneously from the end of the nearby Municipal Pier. Of course, at Pier 39 there’s more to do earlier in the day as well. Start your day with the best of the 80s live musical entertainment from 5 p.m. on the Entrance Plaza Stage featuring Tainted Love. To keep it going all day, at 6 p.m., there’s live music at Aquatic Park. Fancy a cruise to se the fireworks from the water? Contact Red & White Fleet, Hornblower Cruises, OnCruises, or the Blue & Gold Fleet.     

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Vallejo Fourth Of July Parade & Festival At The Waterfront
Vallejo Chamber of Commerce
425A Virginia St.
Vallejo, CA 94590
(707) 644-5551

One of the oldest traditional parades in the Bay Area, Vallejo marks its 165th annual Fourth of July Parade on July 4, 2018. The parade route starts at 11 a.m. from Broadway and Tennessee Street and continues to Mare Island Way. Look for your favorites, as there are cash prizes and trophies for first and second place winners among floats, bands, baton twirling corps, equestrian units and more following performances in front of the judges stand on the 300 block of Georgia Street. Spectators will enjoy a craft beer garden, food courts, giant kite flying, doggie parade, classic cars, children’s rides, live music, DJs and more.  
Fourth Of July At Berkeley Marina
Another Bullwinkel Show Event
201 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94710

Berkeley is going for all-day fun at the Marina starting at 12 p.m and running until 10 p.m. The onstage entertainment has something for everyone. There’s an Allman Brothers tribute band; a demonstration of disciplined kicks, punches, and sparring martial arts skills; a comedy show that delivers juggling, pantomime, and magic, too. Stick around for belly dancing, jazz funk, R&B, an Afro-Cuban drumming circle and more. In addition to all kinds of food stalls and truck, there are live pony rides, carnival rides, an inflatable bounce area, mini-train rides, a giant wavy slide, balloon animal making and walk-on-water bubble balls. Kids can get a henna tattoo or a face painting. At 9:35 p.m. the fireworks spectacular begins at the end of Berkeley Pier. Organizers say the best viewing is along Frontage Drive south of the pier or from the HS Lordship parking lot. 

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