Fourth of July events finally return to downtown Baton Rouge this weekend

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to clarify that this weekend’s July Fourth events will be happening Sunday (not Saturday, as previously printed).

It’s become a Baton Rouge tradition for residents to don their best red, white and blue attire and spend the Fourth of July downtown. Events were paused in 2020 due to COVID-19, but the Capital City is making up for last year’s cancellations with a full lineup of activities this Sunday, July 4. 

WBRZ’s beloved Fireworks on the Mississippi tradition is among the events returning after the pandemic hiatus. It’s the 52nd year the Manship family is providing fireworks for the event, says the station’s director of marketing, Noah Kozinko. 

“A lot of people think the city provides them, but it’s really the generosity of the Manship family,” Kozinko says. “It’s just the patriotism that comes from the family, and once the tradition starts they see the city come together and they just continue to do it year after year.” 

Last year, WBRZ broadcasted a special highlighting musical guests and a recording of the fireworks in lieu of the in-person show. 

“It’s just not the same as gathering with your family and going out on the levee and watching the show live,” Kozinko says. 

The display, which is the largest in the Gulf South, will be visible at 9 p.m. on either side of the Mississippi River, in downtown Baton Rouge or in Port Allen. Viewers can also watch the live telecast on WBRZ+, WBRZ.com or the WBRZ Facebook page

While it’s still daylight, make sure to experience the USS KIDD Veterans Museum’s “Patriots and Pirates: A Revolutionary Celebration,” at the Baton Rouge riverfront. The event brings the history of the American Revolution to downtown Baton Rouge through military displays, performances by the Marine Forces Reserve Ban and more.

Museum Executive Director Rosehn Gipe says the theme is a nod to the USS KIDD’s association with pirates, as well as the role pirates played in America’s victory over England. 

“Everybody loves the connection the USS KIDD has with pirates because she is the ‘Pirate of Pacific,’ so we thought that would be a very cool thing to do,” Gipe says. 

The Continental Army limited the opposing force’s navy advantage by issuing Letters of Marque authorizing pirate attacks on British ships. Now, the USS KIDD and her successor KIDDs are the only ships in the U.S. Navy authorized to fly the Jolly Roger, or the skull and crossbones flag traditionally associated with pirates.

“We would love for people to come down in costumes if they would like to be pirates or patriots, although that is certainly not required,” Gipe says. 

From noon to 3 p.m., Louisiana native singer-songwriter Will Wesley will perform on the levy stage, which is adjacent to USS KIDD and between it and the Riverfront Plaza. The Marine Forces Reserve Band from Belle Chase takes over at 6 p.m. and will perform until the WBRZ fireworks show begins at 9 p.m. 

In addition to the live music, there will be food and souvenir vendors along River Road and the plaza. 

“There has been a festival and fireworks down here in years past on July Fourth, and of course last year there were no festivals or fireworks, so we’re happy to help bring part of that back,” Gipe says. 

The VIP event for “Very Important Patriots (or Pirates)” begins at 5 p.m. and includes access to the ship and museum, food and beverages, plus a premium view of the fireworks show. Purchase the $50 tickets here

The USS KIDD Veterans Museum will also be open regular hours from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on July 4. For more details, visit usskidd.com.