Arriving by land or by lake, nearly 100,000 Central Texans gathered at The Long Center and Auditorium Shores to celebrate Independence Day with the Austin Symphony Orchestra. The July 4th Concert & Fireworks show returned this year, after missing last year due to the drought. Happy to see the event return, thousands of Central Texas families and friends filled the lawn in their red, white and blue ready to celebrate America’s birthday.
Besides being the largest Independence Day celebration in Austin, this event is an Austin tradition. Planned and produced entirely by the Austin Symphony Orchestra, this annual event features patriotic music and the ever-popular “1812 Overture” and a spectacular fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake. It is certainly a large event to produce, but it’s one for Central Texans of all ages to enjoy.
I’ve lived in Austin for several years now, but this was my first time to attend the event. I was looking forward to the symphony concert and the fireworks display above the Austin skyline, but I knew I couldn’t attend this event without taking a few must-have items. One of them—the most important one—is patience.
Because this event is so well attended, guests are informed of street closures, transportation options and parking opportunities ahead of time. They’re also advised to arrive early. Many guests arrived hours before the official start time to claim a spot on the grassy lawn. While waiting for the concert to start, guests appreciated the time by enjoying a picnic, a good book, vendor shopping and visiting with family and friends.
This year, The Austin Symphony partnered with The Homecoming Project to pay tribute to members of the U.S. military with a special multi-media presentation. The Homecoming Project has organized an exhibition that tells the stories of military service members through photographs taken by some of the world’s most renowned photojournalists. The tribute included a visual presentation of these photographs accompanied by the Austin Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “Amber Waves” by Morton Gould.
The Homecoming Project is a non-political, non-profit organization whose mission is to use the arts to raise awareness and educate the public of veteran issues related to war and combat trauma. The project strives to stimulate dialog using imagery to address these issues. Furthermore, the project honors the U.S. military service members by connecting individuals seeking assistance with resources of aid. Funds raised through The Homecoming Project will support veteran service organizations. Local charitable partners are the Samaritan Center’s Hope for Heroes, Serve Who Serve and Voices of a Grateful Nation.
If we patiently wait for things, then we tend to appreciate them more. In true Fourth of July spirit, the night ended with dazzling fireworks over Lady Bird Lake. Sneak a peek at the downtown skyscrapers during the show, and you’ll see the beautiful reflection of the fireworks light up the buildings. Sneak a peek at the people around you, and you’ll see their beautiful faces brightly lit.