Richmond celebrates July 4 with parades, festivals but tempered by illegal fireworks


By Zach Chouteau

Richmond’s July 4 events, actually centered around July 3 doings as is the City’s tradition, appear to have gone off smoothly with no major issues to report. However, the Richmond Police Department lamented a spread of community-wide illegal fireworks usage that put a damper on the major holiday.

From the massive annual celebration held at the Craneway Pavillion to a fun wine fest held at Riggers Loft, there was plenty to do on July 3rd and countless vantage points to view the official fireworks display.

This reporter broke away from his usual routine at the Craneway to climb aboard the Red Oak Victory, a massive WWII munitions carrier now serving as a local attraction and events venue. The ship attracted a few hundred party-goers, who danced to live tunes on an old-timey dance floor, dined on barbecue eats and took in the fireworks display from the deck of the huge craft.

Doings at the Craneway, at 1414 Harbour Way South, included a free performance by the Oakland Symphony during the spectacular fireworks display. It was all part of the 9th Annual Independence Eve Celebration sponsored by the City of Richmond, Chevron and others.

On July 4 proper, the 7th Annual Fourth of July Parade and Festival sponsored by Social Progress Inc. took place on the corner of Fred Jackson Way and Chesley Avenue in North Richmond. The free festival ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and showcased BBQ, beverages, and giveaways that included food and school supplies. During the festival, organizers honored Ms. Gloria Wright, who passed away last year and had assisted with all Social Progress Inc. events.

The evening wrapped up with the free July 4th Multi-Cultural Celebration & Fireworks in San Pablo, which took place at the El Portal Soccer Field at 2600 Moraga Road. Adding to the festivities were live entertainment, food, games and activities, a super slide, petting zoo and fireworks.

According to Richmond Police Lt. Felix Tan, celebrations at the Craneway and Marina Bay Park, which respectively drew about 6,000 and 25,000 attendees, went off smoothly with no major issues. But Tan lamented a huge amount of illegal fireworks activity around the City of Richmond that prompted 119 calls to the department exclusively for fireworks violations alone.  

Tan said while the department does everything in its power to curtail such activity—and actually wrote 12 citations on July 4 for illegal fireworks—the easy accessibility to such fireworks from other surrounding areas are a major hurdle in shutting down such crime. He expressed hope that concerned community members will help call out the perpetrators in the future and help put a damper on illegal fireworks.


  1. One of the ironies of the illegal fireworks is that people in my area who aren’t citizens were the ones who were shooting off the vast majority of them. Also over in the 23rd/Rheem area according to a friend who lives there.

    I’m not bothered too much by it, but there are a lot of safety concerns, and the effect they have on veterans with PTSD and animals. The randomness and unscheduled loud explosions wreak havoc on pets. Along with being illegal, it’s inconsiderate. Some cultures have differing opinions on what is “inconsiderate”, though.

    There are a few cities or counties where these types of fireworks are sold, and I think that the areas where they are illegal should send a bill to those municipalities that DO sell them to cover expenses that result (fires, medical, police).