Tips, tricks and things to know to make the most of your Fourth of July weekend

The return of our first Fourth of July celebration in two years has much of Big Canoe primed for what should be a fantastic weekend.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Playfield Park will become a family-friendly Americana-themed cluster of attractions and eats celebrating Independence Day. On Sunday night, fireworks launched from Lake Petit dam will illuminate the sky for anyone on Playfield Park or on the lake.

Here is a complete schedule with details of all the weekend’s offerings.

But before making plans to visit the bouncy house with the kids, before sampling some amazing ice cream or lemonade, please consider these essential tips to ensure that you make the most of a festive and safe gathering.

Carpool – It bears constant repeating that parking will be limited. Do yourself and all of Big Canoe a favor by carpooling. There is not a slew of lot spaces in Big Canoe. Expect them to fill up fast.

Don’t park illegally – Parking at the base of the Lake Petit Dam is not allowed. Nor is parking on any roadside or in front of a neighbor’s driveway. Opt for Big Canoe’s numerous parking lots. Keep in mind that availability is very limited – some lots are more accessible than others, but consider for example that there are only 40 total spaces in the Marina lot. Space is a premium.

Lake Petit Dam traffic shuts down at 7 p.m. Sunday, July 4 – Wilderness Parkway along the dam will be closed from 7 p.m. to about 20 minutes after the fireworks show concludes on Sunday. Plan any trip accordingly if you do have to drive at that time.

Bring your boat back home – If you plan to take in the fireworks show from your own boat on Lake Petit and you happen to live on the lake, you can avoid the post-show crowds at the Marina by parking your boat overnight at home.

Don’t plan to rent small watercraft from the Marina for the fireworks – Small watercraft such as kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards must be returned at 6 p.m.

Bring a lantern; wear a life jacket – Play is smart. If you have your own small watercraft – or any watercraft, for that matter – bust out the lifejacket. And carry an electric lantern so you are visible to other boaters. Expect the lake to busier than usual.

Get your food with tickets – All food is available only through tickets sold at Playfield Park 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 3. Tickets can be purchased by your lot number or with a credit card or cash.

Fourth of July beer – A selection of canned beer is available for purchase only with your lot number or cash from 5-8 p.m. Sunday.

The Clubhouse is booked up for Sunday – At this point, the Clubhouse is no longer taking dining reservations on the day of the firework show.

Sparklers are not allowed – Please don’t bring them to the festivities. For safety issues, all hand-held pyrotechnics not permitted. Leave it to the experts to light things up.

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