Mesa’s stand-alone Fourth of July fireworks show will end after 50 years, to be replaced by a two-day event downtown.
The first Arizona’s Celebration of Freedom will incorporate fireworks — including pyrotechnics shot from the top of City Hall and the Mesa Arts Center.
The Sertoma Club of Mesa first put on a fireworks show in 1960 but cancelled it last year as donations dried up during the recession. The fireworks cost $25,000 to $35,000, and the show typically drew up to 15,000 spectators at Mesa Community College.
As Sertoma put the event on hold, Mesa was looking to create a summer event downtown and worked with the club to combine efforts.
The event will take place Friday, July 2 and Saturday, July 3. The city didn’t want to hold the event on July 4 to avoid competing with other events, said Mayor Scott Smith.
“There’s a lot of fireworks shows in the Valley,” Smith said. “I wanted to do something different.”
Mesa hopes the event becomes Arizona’s premier July festival. It’s also the latest effort to draw crowds downtown with events.
The fireworks will include traditional high-altitude mortars. But pyrotechnics shot from buildings won’t have mortars to avoid damage or injury, said Walt Zimmerman, Sertoma’s chairman.
“They are self-consuming items that burn up so the only thing that comes down are ashes,” Zimmerman.
While the oppressive July heat hurts many summer events, Mesa plans to set up massive water fans and water activities to cool people down.
Organizers plan historical displays and a forum for political candidates as part of a patriotic theme. Several downtown organizations are working on the event, which is not receiving city funds other than for some support services, Smith said.
Mesa plans to close Main Street for both days, but most activities will take place 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit www.azcelebrationoffreedom.org.