150K expected at Austin’s fireworks show — here’s what you need to know


AUSTIN (KXAN) — After last year’s Fourth of July celebration was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Austin Symphony Orchestra’s CEO and executive director David Pratt was just excited to be back on stage and with the community once again.

What he didn’t anticipate was a crowd of nearly 150,000 people expected to gather for this year’s celebration.

“It’s just something that feels like an honor and a privilege,” Pratt said. “And for this particularly, this is a big community event.”

“This is about coming together to celebrate Austin, to celebrate our friends and family and to celebrate this great country and the people who serve this country.”

David pratt, ceo and executive director, austin symphony orchestra

The 44th H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4 Concert & Fireworks showcase is scheduled to resume Sunday, featuring performances from the Austin Symphony Orchestra before culminating with a 20-minute fireworks display.

Can you shoot fireworks in the rain?

While rain might be a bit of a damper for spectators, it doesn’t pose risks to the safety of those launching the fireworks — so long as fireworks remain in sealed containers and don’t get wet beforehand. Wet fuses will not light. However, if there is a significant downpour, that could lead to a potential delay in the show’s programming, he said.

Event hosts have been working closely with the city of Austin, the Parks and Recreation Department and Austin Police Department to help ensure viewers’ safety during the performance. Despite the potential for rain in the forecast, Pratt noted the likelihood of a cancellation is limited to a torrential storm or thunder and lightning heading into the evening.

A return to large-scale events

For Austin Symphony Orchestra, the performing arts group had a small taste of a return to in-person performances in mid-May, shortly before Memorial Day Weekend. Performing one of the final shows of the season in front of a live audience resonated so profoundly with both the performers and guests, Pratt said.

“I think live music vibrates at a certain level and in terms of our, our emotional state and how it connect with it, I think it’s about that,” he said. “And walking into that venue in May and hearing the orchestra, this audience, the atmosphere was electric, and I think really the best emotion to describe it as joy. I think people were just joyous.”

With a holiday as community-oriented as the Fourth of July, he said now is a time when people are craving those same kinds of in-person, interpersonal connections with one another. And the show will be pulling out all the stops, with a 20-minute fireworks display and full concert performance planned, to the tune of approximately $150,000.

This year’s celebration will be similar to showcases of years prior. But aside from the traditional pomp and circumstance affiliated with the holiday, Pratt said Sunday’s festivities will likely resonate with spectators on an even deeper level, given the emotional toll of the past 15 months.

“This is about coming together to celebrate Austin, to celebrate our friends and family and to celebrate this great country and the people who serve this country,” he said.

Know before you go

The 44th H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks celebration will take place Sunday, beginning at 8 p.m. The Austin Symphony Orchestra, led by Music Director Peter Bay, will perform patriotic music numbers, including the 1812 Overture, along Lady Bird Lake.

Approximately 150,000 people are expected to attend this year’s showcase.

Several road closures are planned for the day of, beginning as early as 10 a.m. and running until midnight. A map of planned closures — including a temporary lane closure July 3 — are highlighted below.

Transportation options include Capital Metro, the hike and bike trail, and the following public parking centers:

  • Convention Center Garages
  • State Garages (free garages: A, B, F, G and Lot 18 are free) on Trinity between 13th St. & 17th St.
  • State lots on corner of MLK & Trinity and MLK & Brazos
  • One Texas Center
  • Palmer Events Center Garage
  • City Hall Garage

For more information about this year’s fireworks showcase, click here.

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