Gearing up for the Fourth of July? Plan to party early at the annual Happy 3rd of July celebration starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday at City Park’s Goldring Woldenberg Great Lawn.

Don patriotic red, white and blue garb, grab lawn chairs and blankets and get ready for an evening of outdoor fun, but please don’t stake tents or other coverings to the ground. Concessions, including sno-balls, beer and wine will be sold, and you are welcome to spread out your own picnic fixings.

If you want to bring your dog, he or she must be on leash at all times. But here’s my advice: Be independent and leave Fido at home, since he or she may not appreciate the fireworks show at 9 p.m. at the Peristyle across from the lawn.

Entertainment will include music by the Marine Corps Rock Band from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m.; and Marine Introductions and the Marine Corps Band of New Orleans from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Find out more on Twitter using the hashtags #USMCatCP and #CityParkCool, or visit www.neworleanscitypark.com.

Dueling barges dazzle

Keep those blankets and lawn chairs handy to catch the dueling barges fireworks display at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 4, on the Mississippi River. You can catch a great view from Woldenberg Park on the east bank and the levee at Algiers Point on the Westbank.

The patriotic tribute will be simulcast on Magic 101.9 FM, and WWL-AM, 870 and WWL-FM 105.3 and be broadcast to 38 of our United States of America.

Enjoy an independence weekend offer from the Audubon Institute and receive a $4 discount on a single ticket for an adult or child from July 2-5 for the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium. To get the discount coupon and for information visit Go4thOnTheRiver.com.

Protect a child’s independence

About 100 children are in foster care at any given time in Orleans Parish. The Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children program, CASA, seeks to help these children by training adults to fight for and protect their rights.

To become a CASA volunteer and advocate for children in the foster care and family court systems, contact CASA by sending an email to info@casaneworleans.org or call (504) 522-1962. Training sessions are underway.

Diners help pets

For several years, Dots Diner locations in the New Orleans area have donated spare change to the Humane Society of Louisiana adding up to more than $25,000. Larry Katz, Dots Diners CEO, is pledging to do more by sponsoring a summer pet food and supply drive during the month of July.

Those donating food or supplies, such as litter boxes, food bowls, pet carriers and collars will receive 20 percent off a meal purchase at Dots, where raffle tickets for prizes, including a bike and power tools, will be sold. For information visit www.humanela.org.

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