Get those river tubes ready and put those burgers on the grill it’s time to celebrate the Fourth of July, New Braunfels style.

Celebrating small town America, New Braunfels and nearby areas will have several major events for families to attend to wish Lady Liberty a happy birthday. Firework shows, a fly-in event, and annual Fourth of July parades will take place across Comal County as the United States turns 243. 

New Braunfels’ most well known events, the Old Time 4th of July Parade and Patriotic Program, and the 4th of July Spectacular, will both kick off at 9:15  — the parade at 9:15 a.m. and the firework spectacular at 9:15 p.m. The events are sponsored by the Sophienburg Museum and Archives in coordination with the City of New Braunfels and New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department. 

New Braunfels 4th of July celebration is steeped in history, and dates back to Texas’ first big 4th of July celebration, said Tara Kohlenberg, executive director of the Sophienburg Museum & Archives. 

“When the Germans came over, they came and left Germany in 1844, they arrived in Texas in 1845 and by the end of December of 1845, legislature had agreed to annex Texas into the United States,” Kohlenberg said. “So within less than a year, by January of 1846 — they were Americans. So they went from Germans, to Texans to Americans, and so that first year in 1846 they celebrated like crazy.”

These celebrations included cannon fire, food and lasted about three days in the middle of town, what is today the plaza, Kohlenberg said.

“We carried that on,” Kohlenberg said. “The museum itself has been sponsoring this 4th of July parade for at least 41 years, and it’s purposely small.”

The parade route starts at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, and makes a small square downtown; participants march on Castell past 2 Tarts, onto San Antonio Street, around the plaza and past the Comal County Courthouse, before ending back on Zink.

“Very simple, and the thing is, if you’re parked over there or you’re with a group when you get back to the parking lot, you can cut across and be back at the plaza because it’s two blocks — be back at the plaza in time for the program,” Kohlenberg said.

The program recognizes what the 4th of July means, Kohlenberg said.

“We have a patriotic sing along, we have a couple of remarks by city and county officials, and we post the colors at the beginning,” Kohlenberg said. “We retire the colors at the end, and then it ends with the bells playing from the courthouse.”

The whole event is over by 11 a.m., Kohlenberg said.

“This is a, ‘Come say happy birthday, see your family and your neighbors and your friends, and respect the holiday,’ and then you go home before it gets too hot and homemade ice cream and go swimming and hit the river,” she said.

The event is free to attend and to participate in, Kohlenberg said. 

“This is the Sophienburg’s gift to the community,” Kohlenberg said. “We will also have veterans and service members in the front of the parade to honor them.”

Comal County residents near Canyon Lake can also choose to catch the Startz Memorial VFW 8800 4th of July parade instead if they wish, which starts at 11 a.m.

“We put together the parade every year and this year will be the 29th that we’ve organized,” said parade coordinator Angie Brannon. “It usually goes for about an hour depending on how many entries we have, and afterwards at the VFW 8800 we sell lunch, and have raffle tickets people can purchase.”

The parade will start on FM 2673 by Tom Creek and end at Old Sattler Road.

As for New Braunfels’ 4th of July Spectacular, spectators should try to get to Landa Park before 7 p.m., said Stacey Dicke, city’s director of parks and recreation.

“Our facilities are open all day, but our fireworks are the main event,” Dicke said. “It does get really crowded and about 7 p.m. we shut down the interior streets to Landa Park because there’s just no more parking available at that time, so if you want to get into the park, I say get here early, if you want to park, otherwise plan to park outside of the park and walk in.”

The event is largely sponsored by H-E-B, and the city works with Radio NB to coordinate music to the show, Dicke said. 

“The fireworks are 20 minutes,” Dicke said. “We also have a concert in the park from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and this year we have the U.S. Air Force Band of the West, right before the fireworks.”

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