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HAVE A BLAST : Fun, Food, Festivities--and, of Course, Fireworks--Come First on the Fourth

July 01, 1993|RICK VANDERKNYFF | Rick VanderKnyff is a free-lance writer who contributes regularly to The Times Orange County Edition.

When fireworks went off over Newport Bay on July 4, 1958, they weren't just in celebration of Independence Day. Bill Evans and partners wanted to mark the Fourth, but they also wanted to trumpet the opening of their new enterprise, the Newport Dunes Resort.

Over the years, Evans bought out his partners and became sole owner of the resort, and gradually the fireworks shows became entrenched as a Newport Beach tradition, the city's biggest Fourth of July display.

"Every year since (1958), it's gotten bigger and bigger, and more and more spectacular," said Annie Quinn (Evans' daughter) of Newport Dunes. This year's 30-minute show will cost the park about $25,000.

"It should be quite a concert this year. . . . We're going to try some high-tech things," Quinn said. Included will be one effect called the "Wall of Gold," along with plenty of the eight-inch shells that produce big, booming chrysanthemums. "Another neat one that was really spectacular last year," and that will return Sunday, "was called the 'Waterfall of Fire.' "

Although the fireworks can be seen--for free--from all of west Newport and parts of Costa Mesa (particularly from the bluffs overlooking Newport Bay), Quinn said Newport Dunes is traditionally jammed on the Fourth with people willing to pay for a closer look and for the chance to see the fireworks reflected on the bay waters. (The entry fee on July 4 is $15 per vehicle.)

Campgrounds at the resort are reserved two years in advance for the Fourth; day users arrive early to play in the water and stake out a prime viewing spot. "I'll get here at 7 in the morning, and there will be people already on the beach," Quinn said.

This year, pre-fireworks activities at the resort will include kayak races in the lagoon, Hula Hoop contests and other games, a bike parade and oldies records spun by a disc jockey from radio station KRTH-FM.

Large-scale fireworks displays have taken on increasing importance as personal fireworks have been banned from almost all of Orange County over the past decade. Seeing the shells burst over water is an added treat, and in addition to Newport Dunes there are several other places to see such a show.

At Dana Point, fireworks are set off from a barge in the harbor. The fireworks show at Main Beach in Laguna Beach is a long-running tradition. San Clemente puts on a display over the pier. Inland, fireworks are set off over the lake in Laguna Niguel Regional Park.

In addition to the fireworks, other Independence Day activities are planned throughout the day, from low-key community picnics to larger events. Huntington Beach will start celebrating Friday with a series of country-themed events, with all of it culminating in the city's 89th annual Fourth of July Parade on Sunday morning and a fireworks display that evening.

Celebrity participants in this year's parade include grand marshal David Austin Green of "Beverly Hills 90210" and honorary mayor Joe Regalbuto, who plays Frank Fontana on "Murphy Brown." The parade will begin at 10 a.m. just north of Yorktown Avenue and follow Main Street in Huntington Beach. Last year's parade drew an estimated 300,000 participants, and organizers expect a like number this year.

The fireworks show will be at Huntington Beach High School, where gates will open at 7 p.m. and the aerial show will start at dusk. Tickets are $5 per person (children under 2 free).

The Angels are in town this Fourth, and they will follow their 6 p.m. game with the Cleveland Indians in Anaheim Stadium with a big fireworks show. Angel games are traditionally one of the hottest Fourth of July tickets in the county.

At the theme parks, the nightly summer fireworks show at Disneyland will be doubled from 10 minutes to 20 for the Fourth. Knott's Berry Farm also will have a display Sunday, along with special events throughout the day at its replica of Independence Hall.

Fountain Valley's annual Fourth of July Fiesta opens today in Mile Square Park with a carnival, games, a chili cook-off and entertainment. There is a fee for entry to the Fiesta ($5 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 11 and for senior citizens), but the fireworks can be seen from other areas of the park where admission is free.

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