When it comes to Independence Day, the pursuit of happiness is how we Americans tend to mark the occasion. And from bombastic pyrotechnics in Atlantic City to a new festival on Long Beach Island, the Jersey Shore is one of the best places to party on the nation's 239th birthday.

July 4th event guide for the Philadelphia region

This weekend will see plenty of parades and concerts at the shore points. But the highlight will always be the plenitude of fireworks up and down the New Jersey coast.

Independence Day fireworks and more

Point Pleasant

(Thursday, July 3 fireworks cancelled, Friday, July 4 fireworks still on)
Point Pleasant will celebrate the holiday with two displays of fireworks, one on Thursday night and a second on Friday. The shows happen at dusk (around 9 p.m.) at Jenkinson's Boardwalk and Beach.

Lavallette
Lavallette will begin its holiday celebrations a day late with an early morning patriotic bicycle parade on Saturday. Kids are encouraged to festoon their bikes, scooters and wagons with red, white and blue for a ride down the boardwalk. There will be face painting and tattoos (just temporary, Mom and Dad!) for the kids at the finish line. On Sunday evening, the town's annual Independence Day Celebration concert and fireworks take place on the bay at the Heritage Gazebo and Centennial Gardens. Saturday, July 5, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. - Boardwalk at President Ave.; Sunday, July 6, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. - Heritage Gazebo, Philadelphia Ave., Lavallette, N.J.

Seaside Heights

(Check Borough website for schedule changes)
Seaside Heights will light the skies with their Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza show on Friday at 9:30 p.m. They'll be viewable from anywhere on the town's boardwalk or beach and by neighboring communities.

Seaside Park

(Cancelled)

A late morning patriotic bike parade will ride through Seaside Park from 10 a.m. to noon, starting at the 5th Avenue Pier and ending at 14th Avenue Pier.

Barnegat Light

Barnegat Light will hold its Independence Day Parade with fire trucks, floats and decorated bicycles on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m.. The route begins at W. 11th St. and proceeds through the town to the Gazebo at the Bayfront. Afterwards, there will be an awards ceremony and concert by the Liberty Band.

Long Beach Island

(Fireworks rescheduled for Saturday, July 5)

LBI hosts its inaugural Freedom Fest this year. Through-out the two-day event, attendees can enjoy live music and DJs, amusement rides, an artisan's courtyard, local food vendors plus a beer and wine garden.

The fun kicks off with a 5K run on Friday morning. Later on, catch the annual Independence Day fireworks at 9 p.m. staged over Tuckerton Bay in Beach Haven at Bay Village. Rain date for the fireworks is July 5.

On Saturday, there will be a classic car show from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bay View Park and fireworks on Brant Beach at dusk.

Registration fee for the race is $40 in advance and $50 day of the event with a portion of the proceeds going towards supporting veterans with employment and job training. Friday, July 4, 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, July 5, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. - Long Beach Township Municipal Building, 6805 Long Beach Blvd., Brant Beach and Bay Village, 9th and Bay Ave., Beach Haven, N.J.

Atlantic City

(AC fireworks postponed until Sunday, July 6th at 9:30 p.m.)

Billed as one of the top Independence Day pyrotechnic shows in the country, the DO AC 4th of July Fireworks promises to be a spectacular affair. This year, 10,000 firework shells will be launched from three locations - two ocean barges and a marina.

Eardrum alert: in the final 30 seconds of the display, over 1000 shells will be fired.

Accompanying the dazzling bursts and showers of light will be a choreographed "Skyconcert" of music selected from Facebook votes. Of course, New Jersey natives Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Whitney Houston are among those who made the cut.

Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Plan to head to the boardwalk early, as organizers expect crowds of around 250,000. Friday, July 4, Sunday, July 6, 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. - Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J.

Margate City

(Fireworks postponed until Saturday, July 5)

Independence Day in Margate means the delicious freedom of barbecuing on the beach this Friday... mmmmm. It also mean fireworks, which are set to go off Friday Saturday, July 5 at 9 p.m. between Huntington and Granville Avenues.

Ocean City 

(Fireworks have been postponed until Saturday, July 5)

Ocean City gets its July Fourth party on early, starting this Wednesday with the Ocean City Pops Orchestra performing the music of Gershwin and Sousa in their "POPS Goes All American" concert at 8 p.m. on the Music Pier. Tickets range from $10 to $15.

Thursday's 7 p.m. VFW Benefit Concert on the Music Pier will remind folks just who we wrested our independence from with a British Invasion tribute.

On July 4, a patriotic bike parade, beginning at 40th St. and Asbury Ave. from 10 a.m. to noon. At 7 p.m., high flyers can demonstrate their skills in a kite flying competition. The city's Independence Day fireworks will be fired off a barge near the Music Pier at 9:30 p.m. and are best seen from Ocean City Boardwalk between 8th and 9th street. Wednesday, July 2, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday, July 3, 7-9 p.m.; Friday, July 4, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. - various locations, Ocean City, N.J.

Sea Isle City

(Fireworks postponed until Saturday, July 5)

Sea Isle City has a day filled with celebratory events for Fourth of July. A free Independence Day Junior Olympics competition gets underway on Dealy Field at 9:30 a.m. For two hours, children, ages three to 13, can compete in running, throwing and jumping contests. Winners will receive Olympics styled medals on three-tiered victory platform. Don't forget the bottled water and sunscreen!

Come evening, at 7:30 p.m., the Atlantic Pops will perform the music of John Phillips Sousa in Execursion Park. Following the concert, fireworks will be launched at 9 p.m. from an ocean barge anchored near the 50th Street Beach. The best views will be from Sea Isle's Promenade and beach. Rain date for fireworks is July 5. Friday, July 4, 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. - various locations, Sea Isle City, N.J.

Avalon

(Check Avalon Borough website for any changes)

A weekend of patriotic festivities are lined up for Avalon's Independence Day celebrations. On Friday, field races take place from 9:30 a.m. to noon at 10th St. and Dune Dr.. At high tide (1 p.m.) a July Fourth boat parade will set sail from the Avalon Point Marina. From 6-9 p.m., folks can join the games and activities that make up the Family Fun Fest at 30th Street Beach.

A special concert program performed by the Bay-Atlantic Symphony, "The Promise of Freedom", will include patriotic favorites, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and the music of Aaron Copeland among others. Guest conductor for "Stars and Stripes Forever" will be Capt. G. Todd Prestige, Commanding Officer U.S. Coast Guard Training Center. The free concert takes place at 7 p.m. inside Avalon Community Hall. Fireworks, set to more patriotic music, will cap off the night at 9 p.m. on the 30th Street Beach.

On Sat, a local military band plays a 7 p.m. concert at Veteran's Plaza (rain location is Avalon Community Hall). Friday, July 4, 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. - various locations, Avalon, N.J.

Stone Harbor

(Stone Harbor has moved its fireworks to Saturday, July 5 at 9:30 p.m.)

Family fun activities fill the day starting at 9 a.m. with a sand sculpture contest, candy scramble, foot races, bike races, bike and life guard stand decorating contests, plus a home run derby. At 7 p.m. concert followed by fireworks at 9:30 .m. at the soccer field. Friday, July 4, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (rain date for fireworks July 5) 81st Street Recreation Field, 81st St. and Second Ave., and the Beach, Stone Harbor, N.J.

The Wildwoods

(Fireworks postponed till Saturday, July 5)

An entire weekend's worth of entertainment awaits beach-goers this Independence Day holiday at the Wildwoods.

On Friday, at 9 a.m., North WIldwood's Independence Day bicycle parade cruises north from 9th and Atlantic Aves. to 1st and Surf Aves. Just one block away, at 8th and Atlantic Aves, the Patriotic Pooch Parade begins and joins with the cyclists, with dogs of all breeds dressed up in their Fourth of July finery. Participants can score prizes for the best red, white and blue decorated bikes and best costumed pet.

Also at 9 a.m., the 5K Beach 'n Boardwalk Patriotic Fun Run gets started. Runners begin the race at the Wildwoods sign, traveling north to the convention center and then down the boardwalk extension to the beach. They'll continue south to Primrose Ave. in Wildwood Crest and loop back to the convention center. Registration is $25 for adults and $10 for students 18 years and younger, with funds raised going towards maintenance of the Wildwoods Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.

Friday evening features two free concerts. Changes in Latitudes, a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, performs at 6 p.m. in Fox Park. The Manhattan Dolls will play Broadway patriotic favorites for North Wildwood's Fourth of July Patriotic Show at Centennial Park at 8 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets and beach chairs to both concerts.

Finally, fireworks illuminate the night skies over the beach at Pine Ave. at 10 p.m. (rain date July 5 at 9 p.m.)

On Saturday, the BeachGlow Music Festival brings an electronic dance music (EDM) party to the beach. Headlined by Los Angeles EDM duo, DVBBS the concert's other acts include Kap Slap, Get KunKed, Gazzo, Jai Wolf, DJ Prime, PRFFTT & Svyable, Almond, Grant & Duval, Kasum and HardPartBros. Festival-goers will also find body painters, a dunk tank, beer tent and beach games. Tickets range from $10 to $60 and benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

North Wildwood's 8 p.m. Concert under the Stars series will feature Philly's own The Orlons at the Lou Booth Amphitheatre. Wildwood Crest's Summer Music Series has a 7:30 p.m. Bruce Springsteen tribute, the B Street Band at Centennial Park Entertainment Pavilion.

A free concert wraps up the weekend with the Motown and R&B sounds of Tru at the Fox Park Amphitheater on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.

Friday, July 4, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday, July 5, 2-11 p.m.; Sunday, July 6, 7:30-9:30 p.m. - various locations, the Wildwoods, N.J.

Cape May

(Fireworks moved to July 6 at 9 p.m.)

Cape May's Independence Day celebrations span three days, starting this Thursday with the North Cape May Independence Day Festival. From 5 p.m., along the bay between Lincoln Blvd. and Emerson Ave., attendees can enjoy amusement rides, food vendors and live music from Lima Bean Riot, Banana Trio and the Thirsty Wilson Band. Fireworks will fill the night skies over the Delaware Bay around 9 p.m. (rain date July 6).

On Sunday, the Cape May Fireworks Extravaganza will be staged near the Perry Street Beach at 8 p.m., while North Cape May sets off more fireworks on the bay front at 9 p.m.

Cape May's Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) is hosting a dinner & fireworks special on both Thursday and Friday, which offers a vantage point from Cape May Lighthouse. Patrons will be picked up by a MAC trolley at the Washington Street Mall information booth and taken to the Red Store restaurant at Cape May Point for a seasonal five-course dinner. Afterwards, the trolley transports diners to the lighthouse to view fireworks from watch gallery. Tickets are $100 and reservations are needed (limit 12 people each night).

This Saturday, Cape May holds its annual Independence Day Parade at 1 p.m., beginning at Beach Ave. at Philadelphia Ave. Onlookers can watch the Cape May County String Band, Greater Kensington String Band, Fralinger String Band, Dr. Emlen Physick & Colonial Musketeers Band, along with floats, classic cars and decorated bicycles as they proceed to Patterson Ave.

Thursday, July 3, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, July 4, 8-10 p.m.; Saturday, July 5, 1-10 p.m. - various locations, North Cape May and Cape May, N.J.