Celebrate Independence Day at the Tampa Riverwalk with a spectacular day of fun and family-friendly activities. This year’s line-up of events, hosted by Friends of the Tampa Riverwalk, includes the third annual July 4th Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet, plus a digital boat poker run and a water ski show by the Tampa Bay Water Ski Team. All the events are being held in conjunction with the Star-Spangled Sparkman festivities hosted at Sparkman Wharf, which will conclude with a spectacular nighttime fireworks display.
The July 4th Boat Parade will feature patriotically decorated vessels that will sail approximately 7.5 miles on the Hillsborough River. The grand marshals for this year’s parade riding in the lead boat, Latitude Lindsey II, will be Tampa Fire Chief Barbara Tripp and 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Suzy Lopez.
The course for both large and small vessels will end at Sparkman Wharf, where guest judges from the Boys & Girls Club will evaluate each vessel and select one to receive a trophy and gift basket full of local prizes for the Most Patriotic Boat.
During the July 4th Boat Parade, boaters will participate in Friends of the Tampa Riverwalk’s digital boat poker run. Boaters will check in at various GPS hot spots along the Hillsborough River parade route. Participants who successfully check into each location will be entered into a random drawing for an assortment of local prizes.
There are public viewing areas all along the route where residents and visitors can cheer on the boaters and enjoy the festivities.
At 6 p.m., members of the Tampa Bay Water Ski Team will thrill the audience near Sparkman Wharf with aerial tricks during a 45-minute water show. Also, at Sparkman Wharf, boats in the parade will be able to take part in the Blessing of the Fleet. This centuries-old tradition draws its heritage from Mediterranean fishing communities and is celebrated around the globe. Local clergy will bless the vessels to help ensure a safe and bountiful season.
Registration to participate in this year’s July 4th Boat Parade began on June 1. The registration fee is $50 per boat. Captains who are interested must register their vessel online at https://thetampariverwalk.com/. Registration fees help cover the cost of the parade.
For public viewing of the boat parade, visit these locations at the (approximate) designated times: 6:15 p.m. at Tampa Convention Center, 6:30 p.m. at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, 6:45 p.m. at Armature Works, 7:15 p.m. at Davis Islands and Channel Drive and 7:30 p.m. at Sparkman Wharf.
Public viewing is also available at Water Works Park and Harbour Island. To view the entire route, visit https://thetampariverwalk.com/. Following the boat parade and water ski show, spectators can stay to enjoy an exciting free fireworks display beginning at 9 p.m. at Sparkman Wharf.