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Best Fourth Of July Parties In The Bay Area

(credit: George Rose/Getty Images)

Say "Happy Birthday U.S.A." at any one of these celebration bashes happening around the Bay Area this July 4th. Live it up because the holiday falls on a Friday this year, so you just may celebrate the nation turning 238 years old all weekend long.

Pier 39 Fourth of July Celebration
Beach St. & The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 981-7437

Date: July 4, 2014 from 12 p.m. - 10 p.m., Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.

Always popular Pier 39 will host a large Fourth of July celebration for day-long fun that all ages can enjoy. While the day's final schedule is not yet complete, you can be sure musical entertainment and family-friendly activities in the Entrance Plaza are a guarantee. At around 9:30 p.m., San Francisco will treat spectators to an elaborate fireworks display over the San Francisco Bay. There are two sets of synced fireworks, so you can you get a glimpse from all around the area. One set is near the Marina Green, and the other is closer to Fisherman's Wharf.

4th of July at Berkeley Marina
201 University Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 548-5335

Date: July 4, 2014 from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m.

Here with one of the biggest parties of the year is the Berkeley Marina, with free fun for everyone! The Adventure Playground, which is always a favorite with the kids, is open until 8 p.m. Live entertainment can be found on the main stage from noon until 9:30 p.m. Band favorites include Bang Data, featured on "Breaking Bad," plus the Boston Boys, The Blondies, The Lady Crooners and The Allman Stepbrothers. Over at the Buddy Club Stage in Shorebird Park, you'll 'ooh and aah' at the juggling and magic acts. Also featured will be Afro Cuban Drumming, Sean Lee: A One-Man Band, Benjamin Glasgow - Caribbean Steel Drums and kid favorites like face painters and balloon twisters. Oodles of yummy food trucks and booths will be there to feed you, with crafts, massages, pony rides and free dragon boat rowing to keep you entertained from noon until 5 p.m. Hop aboard the mini-train or head for the huge slides and water bubble ball rides. Capping the day off is the grand fireworks show, an over-the-water display at the end of Berkeley Pier beginning at 9:30 pm. Admission to this event is free, but this is also an alcohol-free event. Free valet bicycle parking is available and vehicle parking will cost $15. No cars will be permitted in or out after 7 p.m.; walkers/bikers are welcome after 6 p.m. Visit the website to get even more details.

Stars & Stripes 5K Run/Walk and Kids Run
Todos Santos Plaza
Grant St. and Willow Pass Road
Concord, CA 94520
(925) 676-8298

Date: July 4, 2014

The Concord Police Association presents its 5th Annual July 4th Stars & Stripes 5K Run & Walk, a community event, in downtown Concord. The event benefits Monument Crisis Center and Bay Area Crisis Nursery, two excellent organizations dedicated to helping individuals, families and children in need. The race grows each year with 800 participants in 2013, and over 1,000 participants expected to run/walk the 3.1-mile route this year. The 5K entry fees range from $25-$35, with online registration highly encouraged. Your entry fee includes a goody bag with real goodies like gift certificates, original design race t-shirt and a Brenden Theaters movie ticket. There will be water stops along the route and tons of delicious post-race goodies. After the race, in true red, white and blue tradition, is Concord's 4th of July Parade, complete with floats, bands, dance teams and much more. An optional pancake breakfast (6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.) and hot dog lunch (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for pre- and post-race contestants is available for $5 per person at the Rotary booth. Check the website for complete details.

4th of July Rose, White & Blue Parade

The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126
(408) 436-8581

Date: July 4, 2014 at 10 a.m., Picnic 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.

A San Jose tradition returns July 4th on San Jose's grand avenue, The Alameda. Enjoy this family holiday packed full with history, Americana and Roses! The Rose, White and Blue Parade and Festival is an annual 4th of July event held in San Jose, California, as a revival of the historic Rose Carnival of 1896, which in 1926 became the Fiesta de Las Rosas Parade. Enjoy this sentimentally old fashioned parade as it winds through the Rose Garden neighborhood, ending on The Alameda. This well-loved parade features live bands, dance groups, homemade floats, antique cars and a whole lot more. After the parade, enjoy a picnic on The Alameda featuring food and drink from local restaurants under the cool shade of trees, while enjoying live music. Visit the website for full details.

4th of July Parade & Festival, 2014
100 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 924-0441

Date: July 4, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This parade begins at 10:30 a.m. at Redwood High School in Larkspur, and ends at Corte Madera Town Center. Featured bands in the parade will include the Famous Corte Madera Town Band, McIntosh Pipe Band and the Freedom Band. A lot more follows the parade with a day-long list of festivities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. highlighting arts & crafts, entertainment, children's activities and, of course, some pretty good food to keep everybody happy. There will also be a selection of local artists and artisans displaying fine art, photography, pottery, wine charms, candles, jewelry, clothing, glassware, along with live entertainment on the Main Stage from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Kids can have fun at the carnival games, arts & crafts, Children's Stage and the always popular bouncy houses and slides. Food vendors will serve hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, wraps, BBQ, pizza, ice cream and a lot more. See the website for additional information, plus sponsorship and volunteer opportunities.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at
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