ANTIOCH -- A community volunteer group that revived this city's annual Fourth of July celebration is hoping that a venue change makes this year's event bigger and better.
The Celebrate Antioch Foundation nonprofit organization has a full day of activities planned for Independence Day, starting with a downtown parade along Second and Third streets at 11 a.m. and ending with fireworks at dusk.
The post-parade festivities will be at the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, a change for a city that has held celebrations for years along the San Joaquin River waterfront.
Organizers say the move will make it easier for crowd control, as last year's event included people standing and walking along railroad tracks and breaking through barricades.
"It just drove us crazy," said Wayne Harrison, Celebrate Antioch's president. "We envision (the fairgrounds) as just being so much easier to keep people safer."
July 4 is not only the nation's birthday but also the date when Antioch was founded in 1851. In 2010, the city canceled the annual parade and fireworks because of a lack of funding. A group of civic-minded volunteers picked up the patriotic torch and, through community donations, brought it back two years later. Harrison said there always was a "notion that it couldn't be done" at the fairgrounds.
"We talked to the fireworks people and they said there was plenty of room, and that it is allowed within state law," he said.
Harrison also points out that the $54,000 price tag is slightly cheaper than years past, as the group does not have to pay for the barge and tug and permits to shoot fireworks over the Delta.
Group member Joy Motts added that the fairgrounds provides "facilities that we really need" such as restrooms, sound equipment and a permanent stage.
Also, there is shade, which can come in handy if it is like last year, when temperatures reached triple digits, Motts said.
"Overall, I think people will find it is a lot more comfortable, and a better event," she said.
"If there are 18, 20,000 people, they are prepared to handle that."
Some, even group members, were apprehensive about the move.
"It's kind of amazing. There's this whole contingent that say, 'Oh that's terrible, how can move it,' but when you explain the reasons why, people get it," Harrison said.
"The other contingent says they remember it being at the fair when they were kids. But everybody is excited."
Festivities at the fairgrounds start at 1 p.m., and admission is free all day. Parking at the fair is $5.
The fair will have food and craft vendors, musical acts throughout the day on the main stage, beer and wine sales, and children's activities that include some old-fashioned games such as three-legged races and a water balloon toss.
A car show will be held at 2 p.m., and Paradise Skate will be open to the public.
Patrons are encouraged take blankets and chairs to the fair's grassy area for the fireworks.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
WHAT: Antioch's Fourth of July celebration
WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Parade will be held downtown at Third and A streets at 11, followed by the day of events starting at 1 p.m. at the fairgrounds, 1201 W. 10th St.
COST: Free; all-day parking is $5.