Why wait until tomorrow to celebrate American Independence Day? Put on your favorite red, white and blue wear and join the crowd at the annual Happy 3rd of July event starting at 5:30 p.m. on the Goldring/Woldenberg Great Lawn at City Park.

Bring blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy a spectacular show, including patriotic music played by the Marine Corps Rock Band and the Marine Corps Band, including “The 1812 Overture” and “America the Beautiful.”

Arrive early for patriotic giveaways and a great spot on the lawn. Concessions, snowballs, wine and beer will be available for purchase, or you may bring your own picnic food and beverages. Dogs are allowed on the Great Lawn, but must be on a leash at all times.

Dreyfous Avenue and Anseman Street will be closed during the free event, which will end at 9 p.m. with fireworks taking off from the Peristyle.

Bastille Day Fête

The Alliance Française de La Nouvelle Orléans, with support of the French-American Chamber of Commerce and the Consulate General of France in New Orleans, will present Bastille Day Fête events from Sunday, July 6, though Monday, July 14, at various locations in New Orleans.

The main celebration of this French national holiday — equivalent to our Fourth of July — is a public festival from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 12, at the revitalized Spanish Plaza — oui, Spanish — at the foot of Canal Street between the ferry landing and the Riverwalk Marketplace. Enjoy a view of the Mississippi River, French food from local restaurants and dancing to live music.

This year’s music line-up features French accordionist Norbert Slama, Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots, and the Lafayette band Feufollet.

Children will be treated to French storytelling and art activities and everyone will witness celebrations in Paris and other locations via live radio broadcasts.

All breeds of dogs — not just French poodles — are eligible for a costume contest with a French and Jules Verne theme. The contest, in partnership with the LA/SPCA, will include prizes in various costume categories.

Another Bastille Day celebration will take place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 12, in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street, near Esplanade Avenue. Family-oriented festivities include games, an art market and live music.

The annual event is sponsored by the Faubourg St. John Neighborhood, and information is available online at http://www.fsjna.org">www.fsjna.org.

For information about events throughout the city, including a bartenders and waiters race, concerts of French music and a show of vintage French cars, visit www.bastiledaynola.com and sign up for events at http://www.facebook.com/BastileDayFeteNola">www.facebook.com/BastileDayFeteNola.

Bastille Day honors the storming of the Bastille, a medieval fortress and prison in Paris, on July 14, 1789, bringing France toward democracy. The event sparked the French Revolution, which had a huge impact on New Orleans since it led to the Louisiana Purchase as a way for Napoleon Bonaparte to finance his wars in Europe.

Lynne Jensen writes about New Orleans community events and people. Contact her at jensencolumn@gmail.com.