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Pops on the River July 4 in Little Rock

Independence Day tradition brings crowds to downtown for music, fireworks show.
LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) - Pops on the River, presented by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and sponsored by Landers FIAT, will take Friday, July 4, in downtown Little Rock in the River Market/First Security Bank Amphitheater. 

The event holds true to its roots by continuing to offer free family entertainment with a performance by the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and a fireworks finale, but has expanded over the years to include more activities and events for festivalgoers. 

The event begins at noon in the River Market area of downtown Little Rock. The gates will open to the First Security Amphitheater at 5:30 p.m. for the other planned entertainment including Arkansas Symphony Orchestra concert, will begin at 8:30 p.m. with Music Director Philip Mann conducting.

This year the 31st annual Pops on the River event was selected by the 531st Air National Guard Band of the Southwest as the chosen venue for their July 4th performance. The Air National Guard Band of the Southwest, historically known as the 531st Air Force Band, has a 60+ year history of sustaining the traditions and heritage that has become the hallmark of military bands. This forty-member concert band will provide patriotic and Americana music, from Sousa to Broadway to Motown. 

The festival also puts a strong focus on the military. “We are giving all military members (active, reserved or retired) who check in with us at the event an event discount card that can be used at many of the food/drink vendors and marketplace merchants as a way of saying how much we appreciate what they do for us and our country,” said Tabitha Cunningham, events and sponsorships director at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

There will also have several giveaways for those military members including t-shirts, cozies and American flags, as supplies are available. All military are asked to check in with their military ID at the Military Appreciation Tent when they arrive at the event. The tent is located next to the main entrance into the Amphitheater.

“We also wanted to provide the opportunity for festival goers to say thanks to our troops on a larger scale so we have partnered with CHI St. Vincent for Salute the Troops.”

Salute the Troops is a three-part campaign to honor the men and women in the armed forces. Throughout the day, a letter-writing station will be set up for children in our Kids Pavilion (open noon-8:30 p.m.) where letters can be written (or pictures drawn) to the troops serving overseas through the A Million Thanks campaign. From 5:30-9:30 p.m., a Salute the Troops tent will be sent up to record video messages to the troops. The videos will appear on www.arkansasonline.com/salute. Those who are not able to make the event can upload their own video to the website through July to honor these men and women.

Other events/attractions at this year’s Pops include FIAT Pavilion that will showcase approximately 20 cars for festivalgoers to see and talk to industry reps. 

The Kids Pavilion, sponsored by Arkansas Children’s Hospital, will include bounce houses, games, crafts, live music, face painting and caricatures by John Deering, cartoonist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. 

Also at the event is a classic car show, a marketplace for shopping and, of course, food trucks with traditional (and not so traditional) fair food. Live music will be played throughout the day and evening, including local acts Jeremy Geyer, Valley Ray, Northeast Northwest, and the Oh Say! Can You Sing? finalists compete in the last round of competition as they sing traditional patriotic music.

Fireworks will begin at approximately 9:20-9:30 p.m. and are shot off the Main Street Bridge. Click here for a full schedule of all the events.

Transportation and free parking are provided for festivalgoers. The route includes stops at the Clinton Presidential Center, the U.S. Post Office, the Arkansas Arts Center and the River Market, where the event will be held. Free parking is available at each trolley stop, and trolley service is free. 

Access to the Main Street Bridge will close at 1 p.m. and reopen at 11 p.m. The following roads will close between 5 and 11 p.m.: Rock, Ottenheimer, Commerce and the Main Street Bridge. 

The event is free to the public. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to enjoy the festivities. Amphitheater seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. The public can reserve amphitheater seating for only $10 prior to the event through the Pops on the River website. No fireworks, food, drinks, coolers or pets will be allowed in the park.

The event’s benefiting charity this year is Our House Children’s Center. The event is supported by sponsors Landers FIAT, Delta Dental, Chick-fil-A, St. Vincent and the City of Little Rock, among others.
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