ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York State Office of General Services and Price Chopper are once again hosting Fourth of July festivities at the Empire State Plaza, but new restrictions will be in place at this year's celebration.
New this year, the plaza security will enforce its alcohol policy consistent with all other events and will not allow outside alcohol beverages or glass containers to be brought onto the plaza at any time of day. Attendees are still permitted to bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages as long as they are not in glass containers or coolers.
"I think their new policy with the cooler might make it safer for the kids. And also safer for the traffic going home," said Arthur Stewart, who watches the fireworks from a nearby park with his family to avoid the crowds. "You have a lot of people come down here with their coolers to drink during the fireworks, and then have to drive home."
Although you can't bring your own, alcohol will still be sold by vendors on site.
"This way we are going to be providing wine and beer and it will be in a more controlled atmosphere," Commissioner Roann Destito said.
BBQ food vendors will also be set up by Price Chopper for those who choose not to bring their own food. For those who do, all bags and backpacks will be subject to search. This year, however, coolers will not be allowed.
"The decision to eliminate coolers was made to make our events safer and more friendly for everyone and is similar to the policies at many other large events in the region," said Heather Groll of the New York State Office of General Services.
This year July 4th festivities include a performance by rock and roll great Johnny Rivers. A big focus will be placed on returning the plaza to a more family-friendly environment including kids' play areas on both sides of the concourse. The Family Fun Zone will be smoke and alcohol free and will feature pony rides, face painting, and bounce rides.
Live music kicks off on the main stage at 4 p.m. (see schedule below) and will continue throughout the day with entertainment and other activities.
The area's longest and most elaborate fireworks display will begin at 9:25 pm.
(Grounds open at 3 p.m.; stage opens at 4 p.m.)
4:00 p.m. Welcome
Naturalization Ceremony (main stage)
4:30 p.m. United States Military Academy Band (main stage)
5:00 p.m. Rob Skane Trio (north stage)
5:30 p.m. Johnny Raab and the Jailhouse Rockers Band (main stage)
6:15 p.m. Chris Dukes Band (north stage)
6:30 p.m. Bluz House Rockers (main stage)
7:15 p.m. 7th Inning Stretch (north stage)
7:45 p.m. Official Program
National Anthem by the Irish Tenors (main stage)
8:05 p.m. Rock and Roll Great Johnny Rivers (main stage)
9:25 p.m. Fireworks