County residents and visitors will be able to celebrate the nation's independence this week with plenty of choices when it comes to parades, music and fireworks.
From Lewiston to Royalton -- and many points in between -- related events start as early as today, though Tuesday and Wednesday are the focal points.
Here's a sampling of most of the major gatherings:
Volunteers will be key to the Great Royalton Fourth of July Celebration, which begins at noon Wednesday in Ravine Park, on Gasport Road in the hamlet of Gasport.
Co-Chairwoman Pam Schmitt said the parade starts at 3 p.m. and will proceed from St. Mary's Catholic Church on West Avenue to Main Street and then to Ravine Park.
People can buy chicken barbecue dinners at the park beginning at noon, and the sale will go on until 3 p.m. or until the meals are sold out, Schmitt said.
Children's games and activities will start at 4 p.m.
The park also is the site for free music. The band Last Call will go on at 1 p.m.; Jonesie and the Cruisers will play from 4 to 6 p.m.; followed by Strictly Hip and Toby Live.
At dusk, the Red House Band will play patriotic music during the fireworks.
In Lewiston, Independence Eve plans have changed slightly due to Hootie and the Blowfish canceling their summer tour, including a stop Tuesday evening at Artpark, because lead singer Darius Rucker has been battling a persistent staph infection.
The Derek Trucks Band will play instead. The free concert starts at 6 p.m.; Artpark parking costs $6 and carry-ins are prohibited.
On Wednesday, Artpark, the Lewiston Council on the Arts and the Lewiston/Porter community are joining forces for a full slate of family events, including a fireworks display.
Activities begin at 7 p.m., with the Lewiston Council on the Arts presentation of the Nickel City Clippers in Academy Park on Center Street, followed at 7:30 p.m. with the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas in Artpark's Outdoor Amphitheater on Fourth Street.
Fireworks follow the concerts and begin at dusk. Good viewing will be available in both Artpark and in Academy Park.
The Nickel City Clippers are part of the Jazz Wednesday series and perform classics from the Dixieland Era from 7 to 9 p.m. That free concert is supported by Tops, the Rotary of Niagara County Central, Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte and the Village of Lewiston.
Also offered at Artpark are appearances from costumed soldiers from Old Fort Niagara and artistic events for children, such as face-painting and dress up. The event at Artpark is sponsored by Jet Blue, and includes "Blue Betty," a 34-foot airstream vehicle that simulates an in-flight experience.
The City of Lockport is getting a jump on Independence Day by holding its fireworks tonight.
The bombs will burst in air over Outwater Park at about 10 p.m. The scheduling was at the behest of WLVL-AM Radio, which is sponsoring the event for the third consecutive year. During the fireworks, the explosions will be choreographed to patriotic music played on the radio.
Also in the park today, the American Legion Band of the Tonawandas will play a concert at 7:30 p.m.
The city's holiday parade is set to step off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, following a route along Locust Street from Lockport High School to Walnut Street. Featured in the parade this year will be a float carrying parents of local service members, organized by Navy mother Patricia Craft. In the Town of Niagara, The Boys of Summer will play free at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Niagara Town Park on Lockport Road. Fireworks will follow the performance.
Niagara Falls will celebrate July Fourth with a 7 p.m. Niagara Power Baseball game (see related story, top of page) and a 10 p.m. fireworks show at Sal Maglie Stadium on Wednesday in Hyde Park.
The event will feature music by AeDiem and the Byrd's Nest Band. Nick Zawacki will sing the National Anthem.
The Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel will put on an Independence Day fireworks display in downtown Niagara Falls near the casino at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. The rain date is Wednesday.
In North Tonawanda, a free concert at the Tonawandas Gateway Harbor will feature Hastings at 6 p.m. and A-List at 8 p.m. Wednesday on the Sweeney Street stage.
The cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda will display fireworks at dusk. Good vantage points along the river include Niawanda Park and Gratwick-Riverside Park. In Olcott, the fun starts at 10 p.m. Tuesday, when crews will set off fireworks over Lake Ontario in Krull Park. The Town of Newfane and Olcott Beach Community Association are sponsoring the fireworks.
Children will march in the Patriots' Parade at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday starting at Krull Park's lakefront parking lot. They can decorate their bicycles or wagons in red, white and blue or simply join in the march.
The parade ends at Olcott Beach Carousel Park with a ride on the carousel.
The Lockport Community Band will play patriotic music from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Olcott Lions Club Band Shelter along Lake Ontario. Bring blankets and chairs for the lawn seating.
Gail Franklin, Denise Jewell and Thomas J. Prohaska of the News Niagara Bureau contributed to this report.