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July Fourth's fabulous fireworks

Fourthfest at Bayfront Festival Park. (Duluth News Tribune file photo)

As a little girl growing up in Superior, the fabulous Fourth of July parade was always the highlight of my holiday. Waving flags with my sisters while sitting on the curb, anxious to catch loads of candy, then a trip to A&W for a frothy root beer float.

In upper elementary and junior high years, I joined fellow 4-Hers as we saddled up our horses, donned matching red, white and blue western shirts and performed drill team exercises we'd practiced since school let out for summer vacation. Riding high on my mild-mannered Arabian, Duke, every single year.

Once in high school I traded in my equestrian experience to march with the band and perform on the pompom squad. (Dancelines didn't exist back then.) If kids couldn't snatch it up quickly enough, candy thrown from floats would melt after a few seconds on the hot pavement, sticking to the bottom of our shoes. Of course, nothing was as sticky as a wool uniform in the sweltering heat.

Each celebration was topped off by a spectacular fireworks extravaganza and though parade days are a distant memory, fireworks remain a keystone of my Fourth. Months in advance, Visit Duluth is busy working with the pyrotechnic company that designs the show, securing permits from the U.S. Coast Guard, coordinating launch-site preparations with the fire marshal and selecting music to broadcast simultaneously with the fireworks.

In addition to patriotic themes featured in the musical lineup, this year we include a tribute to Prince, along with selections from bands playing as part of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center's 50th anniversary celebration in August.

Speaking of the DECC, their talented team organizes the City of Duluth Fourth Fest at Bayfront Festival Park. This free family event begins at 4 p.m. with outstanding musical acts to keep the crowd entertained until the fireworks begin promptly at 10:10 p.m. As the sun sets, the Aerial Lift Bridge is illuminated in red, white and blue, providing a dramatic backdrop for evening festivities. Details are available at bayfrontfestivalpark.com.

It takes a significant investment of time and financial resources to manage the logistics of Duluth's incredible Independence Day Celebration. The efforts of many partners combine for an extravaganza that showcases our city in all its glory to proud locals and visiting spectators.

Last year, AAA and the U.S. Travel Association estimated that July 4 travel generated an economic impact exceeding $15 billion nationwide. Early indicators show 2016 could top that number.

Timeless traditions of picnics, parades, sparklers and fireworks are carried forward through generations as we honor the meaning behind this holiday.

Whether you're celebrating with pigtails and cowboy boots or clarinet and pompoms, I wish you all a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Anna Tanski is president/CEO of Visit Duluth and lives in Hermantown with her husband, Jason. She has two children, Allison and Steven. She’s a native of the Twin Ports, born and raised in Superior, hence a Green Bay Packer fan to the core. Email her at anna@visitduluth.com.

Anna Tanski

Anna Tanski is president/CEO of Visit Duluth and lives in Hermantown with her husband, Jason. She has two children, Allison and Steven. She’s a native of the Twin Ports, born and raised in Superior, hence a Green Bay Packer fan to the core.

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