By Alex Gallagher
Nearly nine years ago, Kerry Dunne was dumbfounded that Scottsdale didn’t have a Fourth of July fireworks show.
Alarmed by this, Dunne — who is one of the principals at R Entertainment — put on the grand celebration now known as Scottsdale 4th at WestWorld.
After two years of scaling back the event, Dunne is bringing it back full force with activities, entertainment and food and is capping it off with one of the state’s largest fireworks displays.
“I’ve been producing Fourth of Julys for over 30 years, and this is my favorite because no matter what it is, if there’s a monsoon or if it’s 114 degrees, we’re inside, where it’s 76 degrees,” Dunne says.
This year’s events lineup is highlighted by America’s Got Talent: Canine Stars Stunt Dog Show; performances by characters from the feature film “Encanto,” including Mirabel, Isabela, Luisa, Dolores, Pepa, Félix and Camilo, singing songs including “We Don’t Talk About Bruno”; and a plethora of family games like water balloon tossing, cakewalk, and learning how to do the cha-cha slide and the chicken dance.
However, a big event returning to one of Scottsdale 4th’s entertainment zones and recapturing the spirit of The West’s Most Western Town is the return of Rodeo Arizona after a two-year lapse.
“We’ve done rodeos for seven years,” Dunne says. “We haven’t done in the last two years, because we weren’t able to. But we just wanted to concentrate on bringing the bull-riding show back because it’s everybody’s favorite.”
The event’s highest registration numbers are from mutton riding — during which children ages 4 to 7 vie to ride a sheep the longest. Dunne, speaking for himself, is excited to unleash the Canine Stars Stunt Dog Show.
“Mayor (Ortega) was telling us about a new dog park that the city was building, and we thought, ‘How can we use our platform to do something cool?’” Dunne says. “We have worked with this canine show in the past, so we thought, ‘Wow, let’s bring that to Scottsdale and let’s use it to talk about shelter dogs and how to adopt them.’”
Sticking with that theme, Scottsdale 4th will also have a canned food drive and vendors from pet adoption sites.
Dunne is also excited to bring back the Parade of Heroes — which recognizes patrons across six categories: safety, fire safety, neighborhoods, veterans, health care and community.
“We saw so many heroes in our community during COVID that we thought, ‘We needed to use our platform for something other than just shooting off fireworks,’” Dunne says. “We thought if we could honor some of these amazing people in our community, we want to give them a little bit extra love. We had six amazing people last year who we honored, and I’m sure the committee will come up with some amazing people again this year.”
For the event, patrons have several ticket levels from which to choose. Dunne promises that guests will have the chance to experience something new.
“They will get to experience something that they’ve never seen before, whether it’s a bull-riding rodeo, a dog walking a tightrope, or listening to the cast of ‘Encanto’ sing the songs that are now ingrained in every child’s memory,” he says. “We just want to take away that this was a great day for our country, and we’re hoping this will be a great day for the family.”