Fourth of July festivities span Historic Triangle

As America celebrates its 242nd birthday, so does the Williamsburg area. Enduring traditions such as fireworks in Colonial Williamsburg and a parade down Yorktown’s Main Street return as other groups hope to complement such community staples.

Fourth of July Car Show

Nearly 150 classic cars will congregate at Shorty’s Diner 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday as the Classic Cruisers Car Club returns to the restaurant for its latest Fourth of July Car Show.

“It’s a holiday and it’s a celebration of our American heritage,” said Ray Colesworthy, a team leader for the club. “Classic cars are all part of that American heritage. It just makes an ideal situation.”

The event is free to spectate, and those interested in showing off their rides can register for $10. Donations are also encouraged. Proceeds benefit the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters; last year’s July 4 show raised $2,600 for the organization.

The participants compete for awards such as best-in-show, best truck and more. The 100-plus cars on display originate from the early 1930s through 1980, spanning hot rods, sports cars and more from manufacturers like Ford, Chevrolet and beyond.

“It’s just a wide variety,” Colesworthy said.

An afternoon detour

Carrot Tree Kitchens hosts a hot dog eating contest at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Riverwalk Landing, where participants can compete for prizes and the title of biggest appetite by seeing who can eat the most hot dogs in four minutes. Ages 18 and older.

July Fourth Summer Breeze Unleashed

Before endless crowds descend upon Williamsburg’s colonial quarter for the annual fireworks display, CultureFix, Merchants Square and the Art Museums of Colonial hope to draw people in early with a special Summer Breeze Unleashed concert on the art museums’ lawn.

“It gives people a reason to come spend the evening in Colonial Williamsburg,” said Shirley Vermillion, CultureFix’s director at large. “It’s a great, kid-friendly venue.”

The concert kicks off at with the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band performing 4-6 p.m. The military ensemble has performed at major historical milestones like the Desert Storm National Victory Parade and various presidential inaugurations since its inception in 1941.

“The military musicians are just very high quality musicians,” Vermillion said. “I think it’s a good fit.”

The concert continues with local ensemble Brasswind performing 7-9 p.m. The band’s repertoire spans funk, soul, rock and roll, blues and beyond.

“We play stuff people can and want to sing to. We play stuff people can and want to dance to,” said Brasswind saxophonist Curtis Brown.

Brown said that although the holiday should emphasize patriotic themes, it’s also a celebration.

“It’s a birthday party,” he said. “It’s all about a party.”

Food options include Two Drummers Offbeat Eats barbecue, Carmen’s Jamaican cuisine, popcorn and snow cones. Alewerks Brewing Company, Amber Ox Public House and the Virginia Beer Company will have drinks available for purchase.

The concert ends just in time for the 9:20 p.m. fireworks show.

“It’ll be very visible from there,” Vermillion said, adding that the lawn setting offers lots of space for people eager to find a spot to enjoy the spectacle.

Brown said he’s looking forward to his First Fourth of July at Colonial Williamsburg and the kind of American nostalgia that can only be found in the Historic Triangle.

“I’ve been trying to label it as America’s birthday is America’s birthplace,” he said. “Come out and have some fun.”

Want to go?

The Fourth of July Car Show runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday at Shorty’s Diner, 627 Merrimac Trail. $10 to show vehicle, free spectating. Call 565-0309 for more info.

The Carrot Tree Kitchens hot dog eating contest begins 1 p.m. Wednesday at Riverwalk Landing. Ages 18 and up. Call 725-1188 to reserve a spot or register onsite from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The Fourth of July Summer Breeze Unleashed concert runs 4-9 p.m. Wednesday on the lawn of the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. Free admission.

Heavy hitters

American Revolution Museum at Yorktown

The museum will have events from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The first event of the day will be a performance from the Fifes & Drums at York Town at 11 a.m. on the museum’s event lawn, which will be followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence at noon. From 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., there will be 30-minute classroom presentations on key events of the Revolutionary War. The interactive exhibit the Liberty Tree will display messages about liberty from people around the world on electronic lanterns throughout the day. Guests will be able to add their own messages in the tree at kiosks in the museum.

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens will hold fireworks displays starting at 9:30 p.m. July 3, 4 and 5. You can reserve a spot at an all-you-can-eat picnic or on their river cruise for a better view of the show.

Colonial Williamsburg

Start off your day at Shields Tavern for breakfast with Thomas Jefferson at 8 a.m., followed by a reading of the Declaration of Independence at the Capital at 9 a.m. Throughout the day Colonial Williamsburg will have many other events such as musket firing and crafts at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg. The annual fireworks show, Lights of Freedom — a 4th of July Procession and Fireworks, begins on the Governor’s Palace Green at 9:20 p.m.


A full day of events is planned in Yorktown starting with the Independence Day 8K & 5K run/walk at 8 a.m. The parade on Water and Main streets with music from U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Ceremonial Band Yorktown begins at 9 a.m. The Sounds of Liberty Bell Ringing at the Riverwalk Stage is at 7 p.m., followed by a patriotic concert at 8 p.m. The night will finish off with fireworks on the York River at 9:15 p.m.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.

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