Go fourth and be patriotic

Every year you strive to put a spark in your Fourth — but running around the back yard with sparklers and manning a smoky grill does get old after a while. Here are five area events that will do all the work for you, fireworks and all:

'Eternal Flame'

This year the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort and Marina, 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach will launch an inaugural Newport Beach Independence Day on the Back Bay with a two-day festival on July 4 and 5.

The city of Newport Beach has joined with the Dunes and other area hotels in presenting the festival, which includes performances by the hit 1980s girl band The Bangles at 5:30 p.m. July 4, and an array of top area tribute acts.

All-day activities include the Dunes' onsite aquatic park (for an additional fee), carnival games, face painting, crafts, and a barbecue.

Part of this year's festival is a new food truck competition at 5 p.m. July 5, with the winning truck garnering a $1,000 prize. Six local leaders, including community members and chefs, will grade the trucks on area and personal appearance; presentation; appearance of entry; tenderness of entry; and flavor of entry overall.

The 12 trucks include Barcelona on the Go, Chomp Chomp Nation, Dogzilla, Dos Chinos, The Flip Truck, GarlicScapes, the Lime Truck, Longboards Vintage Ice Cream, Munchee5, Spudrunners, Tropical Shave Ice, and the Viking Truck.

Gates open at 7 a.m. on July 4, with music beginning at noon; fireworks will begin at 9 p.m. On July 5, the music begins at 3 p.m., with the food truck competition at 5 p.m. and music ending at 9 p.m.

Admission on July 4 is $60 per car and includes general admission to the concert; walk-ins will be $20 per person. VIP tickets for $75 per person, available at (949) 729-3863, include VIP parking, drink tickets and food in a premium concert seating area. On July 5, general admission will be $25 per car. A two-day car pass is $85.

Information: (949) 729-3863 or newportdunes.com.


'Old Glory'

A favorite each year for locals and visitors alike, the annual Boat Parade by the American Legion Newport Harbor Post 291 features a flotilla of red, white and blue-bedecked boats making their way from Collina Island through the harbor beginning at 1 p.m. Participants strive to win awards in competitions like "Best Decorated" or "Finest Costumes."

Funds raised from the event benefit the Legion's Boys State program, VA hospital visits, OC Stand Down for homeless veterans, and the legion baseball program, among other efforts.

The day begins with a $10 pancake breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. at the American Legion Post at 215 E. 15th St. on the Peninsula. A raffle at $5 per ticket includes a 42" flatscreen Vizio television, two beach cruisers, and much more. The day continues with lunch from noon to 4 p.m. — lunch includes tri-tip and chicken, and a performance by the Dave Alcantar Band. Parking in the Post's own parking lot fills by 7 a.m., but the adjacent grass lot and Catholic church lot also will be available, and a $10-per-car shuttle will run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. to and from the Hoag Health Center at 500 Superior Ave. — look for the American Legion parking signs.

The parade begins with the Harbor Patrol's own Fire Boat, followed by the VIP Boat. The "Old Glory" parade lasts about three hours, and is free to view for spectators from public viewpoints throughout the harbor. Better still, plan a late lunch and request a window seat at one of the restaurants lining the harbor. Stick around for a Marine squadron flyover at around 7 p.m., followed by fireworks from the Dunes.

Information: (949) 673-5070 or al291.org.


More family-friendly happenings

On July 4, the city of Newport Beach will host a pair of Independence Day events in the community geared especially for families.

On the Balboa Peninsula, the second annual Newport Peninsula Bike Parade and Community Festival — dubbed "Fourth of July is for Families" — will start with a bicycle and dog parade at 9 a.m. on Balboa Boulevard at the 38th Street Park, city officials announced in a news release. The fun and carnival game-filled festival will follow from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Channel Place Park.

Next up, the city and Mariners Elementary School are collaborating in hosting the 40th annual Independence Day Family Celebration, which will unfold at Mariners Park, 1300 Irvine Ave.

It will start with a bike parade, which will set off at 10:30 a.m. from Mariners Drive and Commodore. A community carnival at Mariners Park will follow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Information: (949) 644-3151 or http://www.newportbeachca.gov.


'Take It Easy'

And for a rocking blast from the past, the Pacific Symphony's July 4 Spectacular, "Music of the Eagles," is a sure bet. The show begins at 8 p.m. July 4 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine. Tickets range from $25 for lawn seating to $145 for box seats, and are available online until 9 a.m. July 4 or at the box office.

Richard Kaufman conducts the Symphony, who will be joined with Eagles tribute band Windborne. The evening will feature a showcase of the Eagles' top hits, as well as an 80th birthday tribute to film composer John Williams — attendees will be given the chance to vote via text message for the final piece of the first half, either a suite from "E.T." or "Star Wars." Patriotic songs, a military salute and a fireworks finale also are included.

Gates will open at 6 p.m. for picnic dinners; both food and beverages will be allowed inside. Picnic meals from Bristol Farms will be made available during ticket purchasing online; choose from options like sandwich or soup boxes with fruit salad, pasta salad and cookies; chicken breast; salmon; filet mignon; and a dessert box.

Information: (714) 755-5799 or pacificsymphony.org.

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