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A celebration with pop at Nathan Benderson Park

Nathan Benderson Park's Fireworks on the Lake goes forward with social distancing.

Fireworks start at 9 p.m. People should be in their designated parking areas by 8:30 p.m. File photo.
Fireworks start at 9 p.m. People should be in their designated parking areas by 8:30 p.m. File photo.
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Fireworks on the Lake viewers will see the annual fireworks show unlike ever before.

Although the 17-minute show will be similar to past years at Nathan Benderson Park, viewers will be watching from their cars or the immediate area surrounding their vehicles July 3 to practice social distancing. 

Although other Independence Day celebrations and fireworks shows have been canceled, Stephen Rodriguez, president and CEO of Suncoast Aquatic Nature Center Associates Inc., said the park wanted to provide an opportunity for a safe celebration.

“We looked at this as an opportunity to give the community something to look forward to,” Rodriguez said. 

Anyone wanting to view the fireworks show at Nathan Benderson Park must prepurchase a ticket to one of the park’s lots. Tickets, which must be purchased online, are $15 for cars and $40 for recreational vehicles.

“We are encouraging everybody that is attending to stay in your car,” Rodriguez said. “If you don’t want to stay in your car, stay in your immediate designated area of your car. Most importantly, wear a mask. It is up to all of us to work together to keep this safe and enjoy a good time.”

As of June 29, the park had sold 900 of the 1,200 available tickets.

Rodriguez said the Sheriff’s Office will be patrolling Cattlemen Road to ensure people aren’t parking to watch the show.

The budget for the event is about $40,000 to pay for fireworks, security detail with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, emergency medical staffing, barricades and other items for social distancing precautions.

The show is funded from the nonprofit’s sales revenues that are raised throughout the year. Parking charges are more expensive than past years due to additional expenses in controlling the parking lots and fewer revenue streams due to the event not including vendors selling food and drinks.


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