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Party in the park: Free Fourth of July celebration features Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, fireworks, food

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band headlines this year’s Freedom 4th. (Courtesy of Glen Rose)

Albuquerque is celebrating Independence Day with plenty of family fun during Freedom 4th at Balloon Fiesta Park.

The celebration will feature headliners the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. The country rock band, which formed in 1966, in Long Beach, Calif., is known for its hit songs “Fishin’ in the Dark,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “Baby’s Got a Hold on Me,” and more. Its album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” released in 1972, has been inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame. Its 2016 concert film, “Circling Back – Celebrating 50 Years,” won an Emmy Award for Special Event Coverage. The band has several multiplatinum and gold records and has received a number of Grammy Awards, International Bluegrass Music Awards and Country Music Association Awards and nominations.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will receive support from a number of entertainers. Country artist Tylor Brandon will start the entertainment at 4 p.m., followed by reggae group Joseph General and High Vibration at 5:15 p.m., rock band Sister Mary Mayhem at 6:30 p.m., and a “Star-Spangled Banner” performance by Robyn Christian at 7:35 p.m.

A fireworks display will follow the entertainment lineup at 9:15 p.m.

In addition to the entertainment, there will be local food vendors selling burgers, fried chicken, roasted corn, turkey legs and more. There also will be a microbrew garden featuring local breweries, wineries and distilleries including The 377 Brewery, Bosque Brewing Co., Boxing Bear Brewing Co., Broken Trail Distillery & Brewery, Left Turn Distillery, Sheehan Winery, Tractor Brewing Co. and others, according to the event page.

Plenty of children’s activities will be provided, including jumpers, rock walls, face painting and more.

Bus service to the event will be available from 3 to 8 p.m. at two park-and-ride locations. West Side riders can get the shuttle at Cottonwood Mall in the parking area off 7 Bar Loop NW. Riders can park their vehicles on the north side of the mall between Old Navy and Regal Cinemas Cottonwood 16. Riders on the other side of the river can catch the shuttle at Coronado mall. They can park their vehicles west of Dick’s Sporting Goods on San Pedro south of Menaul. The last shuttle will leave Balloon Fiesta Park at 11 p.m.

Round-trip cost for riding the bus is $1 for adults, 35 cents for ages 62 and older, the disabled, and ages 10-18. Ages 9 and younger ride for free. Shuttles accept cash only. Exact change is needed, and bus passes will not be honored, according to a city news release.

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