The simple components for Fourth on the Brazos, Waco’s public Fourth of July celebration, fall into place on Monday with space to congregate with friends and family, food and drink available, hot weather, audience-pleasing music from classic Motown band The Commodores and a fireworks send-off.
This year’s event, held at McLane Stadium’s Touchdown Alley, sticks to the basics that returned last year after a year’s pause in public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A forecast of hot weather may temper turnout, but city organizers anticipate a crowd of more than 10,000, said Megan Davis, Waco community promotions specialist.
Gates open at 6 p.m. with DJ Magnum providing music at 6:30 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., the evening’s featured act, The Commodores, will perform before turning the program over to a patriotic observance and music from the Waco Community Band, leading to the evening’s fireworks finale.
The Commodores, down to three members from the original six that started the group in Tuskegee, Alabama, in 1968, were one of Motown’s leading acts in the 1970s and 1980s. The group’s soul-funk-pop sound encompassed mellow ballads such as “Three Times a Lady,” “Still” and “Lady (You Bring Me Up),” as well as infectious dance numbers such as “Brick House” and “Too Hot ta Trot.” Pop star Lionel Ritchie was one of the group’s lead singers until leaving in 1982 to go solo.
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In a career spanning some four decades, the Commodores have released 15 studio albums and won a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance for their 1985 album “Nightshift.” The band presently consists of original member William King, Walter Orange, a Commodore since 1972, and J.D. Nicholas, who joined the group in 1985.
Fireworks company Pyrotecnico, which launched the fireworks shows of last year’s Fourth on the Brazos and Waco Wonderland, returns to present the 20-minute H-E-B Fireworks Extravaganza, shooting off its fireworks from a site across the Brazos River from the stadium. Those wanting to watch the fireworks outside of Touchdown Alley might consider the parking lots of the Ferrell Center and the Baylor Law School as well as other areas on the Baylor University campus open to public parking, Davis said.
Approximately 15 food trucks will be on hand to sell food and drink, some serving drinks only to minimize waiting for hot attendees. Hydration stations near the EMS tent also will provide water.
Those attending will have their bags checked on entry — clear bags are recommended — and coolers are allowed. Banned are pets, grills, large tents and glass bottles.