Santa Barbara’s State Street was packed with spectators clad in red, white and blue to watch the Spirit of ’76 Foundation’s annual downtown Fourth of July Parade on Wednesday afternoon. From Porsches to horses, parade participants flaunted their patriotic spirit as they made their way past throngs of crowds lining the street.

Following the 50th Annual Fourth of July Parade, the Spirit of ’76 Foundation hosted a musical event at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse Sunken Garden. The concert featured performers from the Music Academy of the West and various other local musicians presenting renditions of classic patriotic pieces. The free concert was coordinated by renowned classical concert pianist and Santa Barbara resident Bryan Tari.

Independence Day may have gotten off to a gloomy start earlier Wednesday, but the overcast weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits at the Montecito Fire Protection District’s annual pancake breakfast Wednesday morning.

Local firefighters served a hearty breakfast to Montecito residents at the department’s San Ysidro Road headquarters with proceeds from the beneft going to the Montecito Firefighter’s Benevolent Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides relief for firefighters who are injured in the line of duty and establishes scholarships for children.

But firefighters are thinking about more than pancakes this Independence Day after several weeks of high temperatures and dry weather. Authorities are warning people to be safe this holiday. The fire season will probably end later than usual this year because of the late rains, Montecito firefighter Keith Powell said.

“Safe and sane” fireworks, which don’t propel into the air or explode, are only legal in Guadalupe and Santa Maria within Santa Barbara County. Other kinds of fireworks are illegal everywhere.

Already, illegal fireworks were blamed for an early morning house fire Wednesday in Santa Maria. The blaze caused about $225,000 in damage.

Meanwhile, in celebration of our country’s 236th anniversary of independence, the Central Coast offered a range of Fourth of July events and activities Wednesday, including firework shows, concerts and barbecues.

Many of the family-friendly events involved traditional American barbecue food, fun and games for all ages, and a great view of one of the area’s fireworks displays.

Click here for additional Fourth of July coverage.

For the second year, Noozhawk used Storify to tell your stories of this year’s Fourth of July celebrations in Santa Barbara County. Scroll down to see our Storify coverage.

Noozhawk staff writers Giana Magnoli and Patrick Kulp can be reached at and, respectively. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.