Nothing says Independence Day to Mountain View residents like the melodious strains of the San Francisco Symphony accompanied by a booming fireworks display. The symphony will play at Mountain View's Shoreline Amphitheatre at 8 p.m. on the Fourth. Conductor Randall Craig Fleischer will lead a program including works by John Williams and Freddie Mercury as well as music from such films as "Rocky" and "Chariots of Fire." The performance will be followed by a fireworks display.
Tickets are $24-$35, although in-the-know Mountain View residents use the coupon in the June 8 issue of the Voice to get some of the 2,000 free lawn seats. The coupon, along with proof of residency, can still be used to get discounted tickets directly from the amphitheater box office. Call the box office at 650-967-4040.
There's still good viewing from outside the amphitheater, says Dan Nitzan, the pyrotechnics operator who orchestrates the annual Shoreline fireworks display.
"The local businesses don't like to have the public in their parking lots," he said. "That's why the golf course is such a good place to watch from. People bring their lawn chairs and picnic blankets and food. ... I can't make enough recommendations to come in via bicycle. Do not drive in."
In neighboring Palo Alto, there's a different July fourth tradition. Palo Alto's Mitchell Park is the site of the annual chili cook-off this Fourth of July.
Besides attracting people who just love to cook, the event has also drawn teams from local non-profits. In between dishing up chili, group members can let the public know about their programs and services.
One group taking part this year is Project Safety Net, which was founded in 2009 to implement a community mental-health plan for Palo Alto youth in response to a local cluster of teen suicides. Students will be on the team along with adults.
"The cook-off is a great tradition, and this team that represents so many parts of the community is an embodiment of the spirit of Project Safety Net and the spirit of the cook-off," said Terry Godfrey, the team's head cook.
The annual cook-off, now in its 31st year, has become a widely attended local event. Eighteen teams are expected to compete this year for awards for best booth, best spirit and, of course, best chili in three divisions. At least five new teams will face off against groups of returning chefs, said Minka van der Zwaag, city supervisor of recreation programs.
The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. on July 4 at Mitchell Park, 600 E, Meadow Drive. There will also be disco, funk, soul and Latin music by the band The Hitmen; line dancing with Hedy McAdams; food vendors; and face-painting and other kids' activities. The Palo Alto Fire Department will display a fire truck. The annual Chili Chase run will not take place this year.
In an attempt to make the event more eco-friendly, no single-use water bottles will be sold. Commemorative stainless-steel water bottles will be for sale.
Admission is free, with a small fee for chili-tasting kits. Tasting starts at 1:30 p.m. For more information, call 650-329-2366.
Redwood City fireworks are back
In other Fourth of July news, Redwood City's annual fireworks are returning. Since 2009, the $50,000 fireworks display has been a casualty of budget cuts, but this year, through public funds and private donations, it will return to the Port of Redwood City. At 9:15 p.m. the port will launch the show, which can be seen from high points all around the Peninsula as well as from a public viewing area along the waterfront off Seaport Court. For more details, go to 650-365-1825.
The Redwood City festivities begin at 7:30 a.m. on the Fourth with the annual pancake breakfast hosted by the city's fire department, at Station 9, 755 Marshall St. Breakfast costs $6 for adults and $4 for children, benefiting the Redwood City Firefighters Association.
The city's popular parade, now in its 74th year, starts at 10 a.m. with decorative floats traveling the 1.25-mile route. The course starts on Marshall Street at the corner of Winslow Street and ends near Alden Street. This year's theme is "A Salute to Agriculture," offering a look into Redwood City's history.
Meanwhile, the 26th annual Independence Day Festival goes from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on and around Broadway downtown. The festival will include arts and crafts booths; food and drinks for sale to benefit non-profit organizations; and a kids' area with a jump house, clowns, face painting and magician Phil Ackerley. Call 650-365-1825.
Also in Redwood City is the Annual Parade Run, a 5K event that benefits the Redwood City Education Foundation. The run starts at 8:45 a.m. at Brewster Avenue and Arguello Street.
For history buffs, the San Mateo County History Museum at 2200 Broadway will host "An Old-Fashioned Fourth." From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. visitors can hand-churn ice cream and make crafts from the 1880s including whirligigs and parachutes. The event costs $2.50 for adults and $1.50 for seniors and students. Call 650-299-0104.
In addition, a classic car show will be in Courthouse Square from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call 650-368-8212.
Woodside Junior Rodeo
In Woodside, the Woodside Junior Rodeo will host an event for families who are looking for a unusual Independence Day experience. Activities will include roping, women's barrel racing, bull riding, pony rides and a pig scramble, with the doors opening at 8 a.m. and the main events starting at noon. The event will be at 521 Kings Mountain Road. Tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for children. Call 650-851-8300.
Menlo Park parade
Families with small children might want to check out Menlo Park's low-key, family friendly event. The city's annual 4th of July parade invites anyone with decorated bikes, wagons, scooters and floats to march in a do-it-yourself parade down Santa Cruz Avenue to Burgess Park (701 Laurel St.), where there will be music, games and food. Admission is free and the parade will begin at 11:45 a.m.