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WUFT hosts 2024 version of Fanfares & Fireworks

The crowd focused its attention Wednesday night on the firework display by Skylighters of Florida. (Sofia Zarran/WUFT News)
The crowd focused its attention Wednesday night on the firework display by Skylighters of Florida. (Sofia Zarran/WUFT News)

The 4th of July came early this year at WUFT’s 34th annual Fanfares & Fireworks.

Friends and family from across north central Florida gathered at the University of Florida Bandshell at Flavet Field on Wednesday afternoon for Gainesville’s only firework display to celebrate the holiday.

Although the evening started off with rain, a rainbow in the sky set the stage for the fun to come.

A couple sits closest to the stage as the Buko Boys play. (Sofia Zarran/WUFT News)
A couple sits closest to the stage as the Buko Boys play. (Sofia Zarran/WUFT News)

Bands like The Late Night Losers from here in Gainesville and Buko Boys from Miami set the tone for the night. The Gainesville group Madwoman played out around sunset until the Gainesville Community Band and “POPS” took over and played into the fireworks.

In the evening, swarms of people covered the field.

Many set up close to the stage with blankets and tents while others huddled in flocks of chairs. A fan favorite this year was the PBS kids zone. Groups like the Sun County Sports Center, the volunteer group Gainesville Thrives, the Gainesville Circus Center and Matheson Museum offered games and toys for children and their families to play.

Kaitlyn Hof-Mahoney has lived in Gainesville for almost 10 years but attended the event for the first time as the executive director of the Matheson Museum in the kids zone.

“It’s been wonderful! There’s been a really good turnout, lots of good music and just a really fun time,” Hof-Mahoney said.

“It’s a really great community event for you to come out, celebrate the 4th of July on the 3rd and listen to some good music, get some good food at the food trucks and connect with different community organizations,” she said.

The smell of popcorn and wet grass filled the air. If you joined the lines surrounding food trucks like Fat Gs, Mayflower and Vegan Gator the smell of burgers (vegan and not) and barbecue quickly took over.

The moment everyone was waiting for arrived when the lights turned out in the field around 9:30 p.m. The Gainesville Band accompanied the mesmerizing display of fireworks. There were moments of silence as the audience gazed in wonder at the colorful shapes and moments of cheers and applause at the more impressive spirals and whirls.

The night ended with a farewell from the WUFT host and the crowd dispersed under a cool and smokey sky.

A rainbow appeared after a brief rain shower, giving Flavet Field attendees an extra view as the Buko Boys play. (Sofia Zarran/WUFT News)
A rainbow appeared after a brief rain shower, giving Flavet Field attendees an extra view as the Buko Boys play. (Sofia Zarran/WUFT News)

Sofia is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
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  • Wednesday, July 3, 6 to 10 p.m. - Enjoy an evening of live music and spectacular fireworks presented by WUFT-FM, WUFT-TV, and WUFT Classic. Keep up with the action on social media using the hashtag #Fanfares24.