The Fourth of July usually means fireworks, BBQ and huge gatherings; the celebration of the birth of our republic.  But before you plan your celebration there are a few do’s and dont's and things that you just need to be up-to-speed on:

Do have fun.
Don't drink and drive.
Do eat copious amounts of BBQ.
Don't forget to say excuse me if you burp.
Do explain to your children why we celebrate this day.
Don't let your children grow up believing it's just about fireworks.

Now, as for the celebrations and, of course, the fireworks, the City of Wichita Falls and Sheppard AFB have taken turns at helping the community celebrate our nations birthday for several years now.  The sequester mess in Washington has put the kibosh on any fireworks or fun at Sheppard AFB or any other military installation for the foreseeable future, so it's a good thing that 2013 is the city's year to host.  My family has enjoyed firing off our own in years past, but the drought has put much of our region on high fire alert.  If you have thoughts on shooting off your own fireworks, don’t get caught with them inside the city limits of Wichita Falls.  Not only is it illegal to shoot them off, it’s illegal to even possess them in the city.  That’s right, just having them will get you into trouble.

“But I have property out in the county, I live in the city and I want to buy my fireworks in advance to use over the holiday on my own county property!”  Sorry Charlie.  If you venture out to buy the fireworks and then drive back into the city limits, you are technically in violation of the city’s ordinance.  Signs are posted around the city that declares “Possession and Discharge of Fireworks Prohibited-Fines up to $2000.” And with burn bans in place in Wichita, Archer and Clay counties, county officials will be on alert as well.  And contrary to popular belief, it is NOT legal to shoot fireworks at Lake Arrowhead.  It is a state park and Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens will be on patrol looking for violators.

But all is not lost!

The city of Wichita Falls still plans to party on!  The City of Wichita Falls and Pride in the Falls are teaming up for a patriotic party with live music, a fireworks display (of course) and much more.  Parking will be free, admittance is free and food and drink can be purchased on site.   You’ll want to bring your own lawn or camp chairs for seating.  The 4th in the Falls celebration gets underway at 6 pm at the MPEC and the fireworks display begins at approximately 9:15 pm over the Wichita River behind the MPEC.

Burkburnett is also planning a celebration on the Fourth with their “Old Fashioned” 4th of July festivities.  It all starts at 1pm in Friendship Park with mud volleyball, duck races and live music throughout the afternoon and fireworks at 9 pm.  So even though you can’t legally launch exploding rockets into the air yourself, you can go out and watch the pros do it!  And let’s face it; what they’ve got is infinitely cooler than anything you can buy.  Well, legally, that is.

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