The party that Tacoma throws for itself every Fourth of July –
Freedom Fair - begins in a few hours along Ruston Way.
Here are some highlights and tips:
Freedom Fair opens at 10 a.m.
Today’s airshow begins at 1:30 p.m. but most of the jets performing in the show will make a practice run starting at 11 a.m. Go early and you’ll have two airshows in one day.
A highlight of the show, the F-22 Raptor, has already been making practice runs this week over the bay. The highly maneuverable Air Force stealth fighter has a sticker price of $150 million.
The main entertainment stage is the America Be Strong stage at Camp Patriot, the farthest west location of the Freedom Fair on Ruston Way, right next to the Lobster Shop. The headlining show starts at 3:30 p.m. with Chuck Stevens (Beach Boys, Monkees, Eddie Money) and Tony La Stella & the Goombas.
Those people holding the donation buckets are volunteers. The least you can do is cough up a few bucks. “It’s what’s going to make or break the event, frankly, ” event organizer Doug Miller told me. Volunteers will be manning donation stations at the three entrances and Miller said they are hoping for $5 a head.
In addition to the F-22, other aircraft include the U.S. Navy’s F-18F Hornet, World War II war birds, aerobatic planes and the unofficial flying mascot of Pierce County: the C-17 Globemaster. Though the C-17s make trips over Tacoma on a daily basis, this flyby promises to be low and slow.
The fireworks show will be as big as previous years, Miller promises. It will start at 10:10 p.m., and the display will be synchronized to music broadcast from entertainment stages and on Warm 106.9 FM and KLAY AM 1180. The fireworks barge will be centered on the waterfront, closest to Katie Downs restaurant.
Other highlights include:
Professional wrestling demos will be at Camp Patriot.
Northwest Regional Pole Vault Championship
Car show at Duke’s Chowder House
Finals for the South Sound Blues Association’s Back to Beale Street Competition
Air Show Cruise will use the Point Ruston Ferry to get up close to flying aircraft. Tickets are $45 adults, $35 youths.
To avoid parking congestion, ride the Freedom Fair express buses. Pierce Transit no longer provides bus service to the fair and they’ll be running their regular routes on a holiday schedule. Catch the buses from Tacoma Community College or the Tacoma Dome station. Passes: $5 adults, $3 children, $15 family
Travel light: Leave dogs and grills at home. Bring money for the food vendors.
Do bring a seat if you want to park it, but come early and stroll the waterfront.
Pack out your litter: Plenty of receptacles and trash bins will be provided. If you don’t, volunteers – not the city – will have to clean it up