To many, July 4th means fireworks, American food, quality time with friends and family, and a good time. All of the above could be found right here in Ocala in the downtown area on the day and evening of July 4. The upbeat music, aroma of hot dogs, hamburgers, seafood and kettle corn along with the laughter and conversation of locals added to the good vibe of the July 4th celebration.
According to feeldowntownocala.com, a 500 feet long slip-and-slide going down Broadway in Downtown Ocala with inner tubes included was set up and enjoyed by all ages. A kids zone could also be found with bounce houses, a 20 foot slide, and face painting. Walking along the sidewalk, you could find multiple food trucks, vendors and of course, beer.
Marissa Smith, 17, had her little brother tired out from all of the fun and games.
“This is a great family event,” said Smith. “I saw things online about the slide and knew he’d enjoy it. I’m just babysitting him today, but we’re having a lot of fun.”
Toddlers to teens to 20-somethings could be found enjoying the day out in the sun on the slide, finding relief with an ice slushy, or finding shade whilst tackling a ¼ “belly buster” hot dog. From Kona Ice to kettle corn to strawberry shortcakes to boiled peanuts, there was a food to fit every taste.
Inside Starbucks, a small family of 3 enjoyed apple slices and a refreshing iced coffee.
“We love the downtown area,” said local businesses owner Stacey Ansley. “We have always loved the outdoors and outdoor activities, especially those including water.”
Live music was an additional aspect of the event that contributed to its success. The Justin Lee Band played at 3 p.m., the Steven Flowers Band was scheduled at 5 p.m. and Nick Alligood took the stage at 7 p.m. Local radio stations 102.3 mycountry and Q92 were also present to add to the entertainment.
“I heard about this event on the radio and online,” said Kelly Roos, a local Billing Mananger. “The music is really great. We’re having more fun here than we would at home.”
This was the first time this kind of event was held downtown, and it attracted many families.
Hundreds of people enjoyed the day-long event leading up to the fireworks show that night.
The event downtown provided the people of Ocala and surrounding areas with a fun alternative to staying at home or going through the trouble of hosting a party. The event downtown was a party itself. Over 300 people on Facebook RSVP’d to the event.
“We heard about the event on Facebook,” said Ansley. “If this event was to come back, we’d definitely come back again next year.”
By: Raina Barnett