Raleigh, N.C. — Organizers hope that moving Raleigh's July Fourth fireworks from the State Fairgrounds to Fayetteville Street will create a new tradition for downtown.
"The Works! July 4th on Fayetteville Street" will kick off at noon Wednesday and culminate with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.
"It's what it sounds like: a hot dog with the works, everything on top," said Doug Grissom, assistant director of the Raleigh Convention Center.
He promised "old-fashioned Americana" at the festival: watermelon-spitting contests, ice-cream and hot-dog eating contests, kid's games, street entertainment and six hours of live music on two stages.
A naturalization ceremony and reading of the Declaration of Independence will take place outside the State Capitol. A circus will parade down Fayetteville Street to its stage in the City Plaza.
"Come out at any time you want. It's a street that doesn't close," Grissom said.
Festival-goers can expect hot but decent weather for the fireworks. It will be in the low 80s during the 9 o'clock hour, and there's only a small chance of isolated storms.
"Right now, it looks like we should be OK for fireworks," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "There might be an isolated storm, but we don't have a big cold front or anything coming through where we know we might have issues."
Parking is $5 in any of the downtown public parking decks and lots. Fayetteville Street and side roads will be closed, but Wilmington and Salisbury streets will be open. Staff will direct drivers to parking around the convention center.
By bringing the fireworks into the urban heart of the capital city, organizers aim to promote Raleigh's downtown, Grissom said.
"Most big cities have fireworks in the downtown proper, and we just want to show people the restaurants and the shops and the museums and all the activity and everything we have in downtown," he said. "We're hoping to build a tradition."