(Editor’s note: Schedule of events follows this story)
Anyone who just wants to have fun can find plenty of options at the 11th annual Fourth of July Splash Saturday at Kent’s Lake Meridian Park.
The activities and entertainment include music, jugglers, food, a classic car show, old-fashioned games, watermelon and pie-eating contests and of course, fireworks.
“It’s a fun community event that we like to do,” said Mark Hendrickson, Kent Parks cultural programs coordinator, of the city-sponsored event.
Dancers and musicians perform from noon to 9:30 p.m. on the Valley Medical Center stage. The fireworks show starts at 10 p.m.
Parking spaces fill up fast at the park.
But free shuttle buses, provided by the city, run approximately every 20 minutes to the park from parking lots at Kent Fire Station No. 75, 15635 S.E. 272nd St.; Kentwood High School, 25800 164th Ave. S.E.; and the 132nd Avenue Southeast Park and Ride lot. School buses will be rotated through the lots to pick up passengers.
“It’s a pretty fun experience,” Hendrickson said of the shuttle buses. “The Kent Police escort the buses after the fireworks so they can get through traffic faster.”
Juggler Rhys Thomas will be the master of ceremonies at the entertainment stage as well as perform his own show from 5-6 p.m. Thomas, who started juggling as a Seattle street performer, has opened for James Taylor, the Smothers Brothers, Leon Redbone and Weird Al Yankovich.
“He’s a funny guy,” Hendrickson said of Thomas, who also appeared last year at the Fourth of July Splash. “He’s real good with young audiences and adults.”
Sub-Motive, a blues, rock and alternative band from Kent, will play from 6:30-7:30 p.m. The band, which has been together for nine years, has played several times at the Fourth of July Splash. The group started playing in Kent when the three band members were still in high school.
“They’re very good and very entertaining,” Hendrickson said. “They play everything from rock covers to their own material.”
Seattle rock band Handful of Luvin’ plays from 8-9:30 p.m. as the final act before the fireworks, sponsored by Dollarwise.
“They have a lot of original material,” Hendrickson said. “They are a high-energy group and keep everyone entertained.”
City officials dropped the Rainier Symphony from the lineup this year because of budget cutbacks. The symphony played for about an hour before the fireworks as well as during the fireworks display. Taped music might be used this year during the fireworks, Hendrickson said.
Event organizers added a classic car show this year from noon to 4 p.m. About 30 cars will be displayed on the grass berm at the park. Residents can vote for their favorite car to receive a People’s Choice award.
“It looks neat when you see the cars on the hill off of Kent-Kangley Road,” Hendrickson said.
The watermelon and pie-eating contests continue to be popular with residents.
“Those are now one of our anchor events,” Hendrickson said.
Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian Park
WHAT: Fourth of July Splash
WHEN: Noon to 11 p.m., Saturday
WHERE: Lake Meridian Park, 14800 S. E. 272nd St.
Noon-12:30 p.m. – Allegro Precision Dance Company
12:45- 1:15 p.m. – Jim Abernethy, singer
1:30-2 p.m. – Spotlight Dance Company
2:15-2:45 p.m. – Sealth, alternative and grunge band
3- 4 p.m. – Pie and watermelon eating contests
4:15- 4:45 p.m. – Zhane Juniea, solo vocalist
5-6 p.m. – Rhys Thomas, juggler
6:30-7:30 p.m. – Sub-Motive, rock band
8-9:30 p.m. – Handful of Luvin’, rock band
10 p.m. – fireworks display
For more information on the Fourth of July Splash, go to www.ci.kent.wa.us/arts or call 253-856-5050