Columbus' annual Red, White & Boom is never the same, but many of the changes from year to year are often subtle, said Shawn Verhoff, co-executive director of the celebration.
The 38th annual Independence Day celebration, which features a massive pyrotechnics display, is scheduled from 11 a.m. to midnight Tuesday, July 3, along the Scioto Mile in downtown Columbus.
But for some of the nearly half-million people in attendance, the event starts much earlier as they try to secure a little piece of real estate with an optimal view, Verhoff said.
"You're able to stake out your spot any time after 6 p.m. on (Monday,) July 2," Verhoff said. "People have generally been very considerate. A majority of North Bank Park and Bicentennial Park will have squatters."
Festivities for all ages will be included.
The children's area at Neil Avenue and Long Street will be open from noon to 8 p.m. Inflatable amusements are among its attractions.
Starting at noon, bands will perform on two stages in Bicentennial Park. More than a dozen groups will perform throughout the day, pausing for the fireworks show, and starting back up about 11 p.m. for a final set.
Jeff Foster, entertainment director for Red, White & Boom, said the diverse set list would include everything from country to classic rock.
The Radio Tramps, who will perform radio-friendly hits from the 1980s to the present, will begin their set at 9 p.m. on the Long Street stage.
Martini Affair will perform its dance-party playlist at 9 p.m. on the Bicentennial Stage.
Those who want to celebrate Red, White & Boom in style can purchase tickets to the VIP Village, which opens at 5:30 p.m. on the west bank of the Scioto River, south of COSI and near the pyrotechnics launch site in Genoa Park.
"It's prime viewing and free food and beverages for anyone who purchases a ticket," Verhoff said.
Tickets are $110 and available at redwhiteandboom.org.
The Ford Oval of Honor Parade, which celebrates members of the military, starts at 5:30 p.m. on the Main Street bridge, turns north on Front Street and concludes at Spring Street.
Those who want to start the celebration early -- and with physical activity -- can join the Charity Day 5K, which starts at 6:30 p.m. July 2 on Spring Street near North Bank Park, 311 W. Long St.
The entry fee is $45. Half of the fee will be donated to the nonprofit organization of the runner's choice. Registration is available on the Boom website.
For the main event, the fireworks will be launched from Genoa Park, 303 W. Broad St., between COSI and the river. The show is expected to begin around 10 p.m. and last for 30 to 45 minutes, Verhoff said.
The display will include some surprises, he said, but he declined to disclose the details.
"We always keep the fireworks finale a hidden gem, but there's always something new," he said. "We have a new fireworks finale song and we won't say what that is yet, but it is a big one."