Just after sunset, fireworks exploded over the east lawn of Old Mission Santa Inés, prompting hundreds of heads to tilt back skyward, and cheers, claps, and screams to sound from Independence Day revelers.

The explosive display topped off an explosive annual Fourth of July Celebration that kicked off at 11 a.m. with the Solvang 4th of July parade.

Click for slideshow

Crowds thronged to the signature Independence Day parade, which moved from Mission Drive to 4th Street and onto Copenhagen Drive. Dozens of clubs, businesses and organizations participated, as well as cowboys atop horses, flamenco dancers, motorcyclists and bike riders, and old-fashioned cars with passengers waving Old Glory as revelers braved the muggy temperature to cheer them and participate in the nation’s 235th birthday. An Independence Day concert was organized by the Solvang Breakfast Rotary Club and held in Solvang Park. The parade ended at the mission, where an evening festival featured a barbecue lunch, music by the Soulmates 5th Graders and The VineYard Byrds, raffles, and, for the kids, a carnival chock-full of large inflatable slides, obstacle courses and jumps. This event was sponsored by the Santa Ynez Valley Rotary Club, who gave three-fourths of the money to local charities.

The fireworks display was preceded by the singing of the National Anthem by local Candice Signa. Many people arrived hours in advance of the 45-minute fireworks show, spreading blankets or setting up chairs for a spectacular display that would make the wait worth it.