Optimize Your Fourth of July Celebrations

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and as always, there are plenty of activities to attend. But which ones should you go to? Hey, here’s an idea: Why not hit all of them?

During a recent Peninsula Pulse meeting when the team was discussing Independence Day content, we tossed around an idea to create a strategy that would allow you to attend all of the festivities offered throughout the county. Although it was suggested in jest, I took on the challenge.

But when I looked at the events schedule we had, I saw one big problem: it’s impossible to attend all of the peninsula’s Fourth of July events. Multiple towns offer fireworks and parades, and some don’t start celebrations until later in the afternoon. However, when I considered that most people like to attend fireworks in the same town every year, I developed a new approach to optimize attendance at many Independence Day events while still ending up in your town of choice in time for the fireworks.

Here are a few rough schedules to check out based on your preferred fireworks location.

If you watch fireworks in Baileys Harbor …

• 7:30–8 am: Arrive in Baileys for the pancake breakfast at the Baileys Harbor Fire Station, 2404 Park Road.*

• 8:30 am: Check out the wares at the arts-and-crafts fair on the Town Hall lawn.

• 9–9:30 am: Grab a beverage, and find your perfect parade-viewing spot. The parade starts at 10 am.

• 12:30 pm: Leave Baileys Harbor via County E to get to the Egg Harbor parade. It’s a route that should get you to Egg Harbor in 18 minutes, but factor in traffic and parking time. Leave no later than 1 pm because the parade starts at 1:30 pm.

• After the parade: Members of the UW-Madison Marching Band will be playing in Harbor View Park, so take a minute to enjoy the music!

• 3–3:30 pm: Leave Egg Harbor for Baileys Harbor via the same route, which will give you time to find parking again. You could also stop at Main Street Market to pick up some picnic-dinner items, or check out an Egg Harbor restaurant for an early bite.

• 6 pm: This is the latest I would recommend arriving back in Baileys, considering the number of people who attend the fireworks here. Find a spot on the beach, and set up your drinks, snacks and games. Spend the rest of the night relaxing before the fireworks start at dusk, a little after 9:30 pm.

If you watch fireworks in Gills Rock …

• 7:30–8 am: Start the day at the Baileys Harbor firefighter pancake breakfast.*

Repeat activities two through five from the schedule above, taking a few minutes to enjoy Egg Harbor’s offerings.

• 3–3:30 pm: Leave for Gills Rock. No matter which route you choose, it will take about 45 minutes to travel up the peninsula.

• 5 pm: Fourth of July activities start in Gills Rock. You should have plenty of time to park, check out the food vendors, listen to music, watch the boat regatta and end the night with the fireworks at dusk.

If you watch fireworks on Washington Island …

This option will require precise timing and sleeping on the island the night before.

• 7 am: Enjoy a pancake breakfast at the fire station on Washington Island.

• 7:45 am: Leave the fire station to head to the ferry line, which takes about eight minutes to reach. Leave no later than this because the ferry can fill up.

• 8:15 am: Take the ferry to Northport.

• 8:45 am: Arrive in Northport. Disembark and drive to Baileys Harbor. This takes about 32 minutes.

• 9:15–9:30 am: Arrive in Baileys Harbor in time to enjoy the 10 am parade. (The highway closes at 9 am, so you’ll have to drive around Baileys.)

Repeat activities two through four from the schedule above.

• 4:30 pm: Arrive in Gills Rock to enjoy some food and conversation.

• 6–6:15 pm: Leave Gills Rock for the Northport ferry, which takes about five minutes. Leaving at this time factors in an increase in traffic and getting in the ferry line.

• 6:45 pm: Catch the last ferry of the night.

• 7:15 pm: Arrive at the island and disembark from the ferry, which takes a few minutes. Head to the baseball field, which is off of Main Road on the left, across from the Deer Run Golf Course. This takes about five minutes.

• 7:25–7:30 pm: Arrive at the baseball field with enough time to find parking; unpack chairs, blankets and supplies needed for the fireworks; and throw some money in the firefighter’s boot that’s passed around as a fundraiser. The fireworks start at dusk.

If you watch fireworks in Sturgeon Bay …

• 7 am: Leave Sturgeon Bay to catch the pancake breakfast in Baileys Harbor, which takes about 30 minutes.*

• Repeat activities two through five from the Baileys fireworks schedule.

• 4 pm: Leave Egg Harbor to travel to Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay, which takes about 30 minutes. This is the latest you should leave to allow for traffic and parking time.

• 5 pm: Activities start in Sunset Park. Check out the food and drink options before the live music starts at 6 pm, and find your perfect firework spot!

If you watch fireworks in Maplewood …

• Repeat activities one through three from the schedule above.*

• 7:30–8 pm: Leave Sunset Park for Baumann Ballpark, which takes about 18 minutes. 

• 7:45–8:15 pm: Arrive at Baumann Ballpark in time to grab a fireworks-viewing spot, and buy some refreshments from the Maplewood Athletic Club before the fireworks start at dusk.

Good luck, and happy Fourth of July!

* For most of the schedules, you can replace the Baileys Harbor pancake breakfast with the Hairpin 5K run/walk in Fish Creek. It starts at 8 am and will most likely affect your ability to attend the early events in Baileys Harbor. The question is, would you rather consume calories or burn them? It’s up to you.