Family-friendly fun of fans of the Fourth

Holiday celebration at the Fort offers full day of entertainment

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

Published:

 

The evolution continues for Vancouver’s annual July Fourth Oooh!Aaaah!Palooza.

Ten hours of activities and entertainment will be capped by a 25-minute fireworks display Monday at the Fort Vancouver National Site.

The event is billed as Independence Day at Fort Vancouver presented by Bank of America. While it’s the 48th edition of Vancouver’s July Fourth celebration, it’s the second time around for a new and more family-friendly format.

The shift had its roots in 2009, when organizers didn’t have enough money to hold the event. When it returned in 2010, the changes included admission fees, as well as enough entertainment and activities and to keep families occupied throughout the day.

There also are heritage- and history-related tours and presentations that highlight this area’s role in the development of the Pacific Northwest.

By at least one yardstick, people who attended the 2010 event appreciated the changes. Many of them bought their tickets online, so staffers at the Fort Vancouver National Trust were able to use that link to send them questionnaires after the event.

“The bottom line,” said Elson Strahan, president of the nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust: “Did attendees enjoy the change for a more family-friendly environment?

“The response rate was 99 per cent favorable,” Strahan said. “There were in the neighborhood of 800 responses. There was an overwhelming appreciation for moving to a family-friendly event with a diversified range of activities.”

The event drew an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 people last year, Strahan said. About 20,000 tickets were sold; children 12 and under are free, so they didn’t show up in the ticket count.

And, those ticket sales are helping put the event on a firmer financial footing. It cost about $400,000 to produce, and “The income last year put us at better than break-even,” Strahan said. “We’re looking to create a sustainable event that the Trust doesn’t have to subsidize.”

One tweak should help the revenue side of things. Last year, more than 250 people bought tickets for the prime viewing area that includes a catered dinner.

This year, they’re expecting about 1,000 — at $50 per adult and $25 for those 6 to 20 years old.

More information for those attending the Fourth of July celebration:

Traffic

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Patrol announced these traffic-management plans for Monday’s fireworks show in Vancouver:

The ramp from northbound Interstate 5 to Mill Plain Boulevard (Exit 1C) will be closed from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Ramps from both directions of state Route 14 to Southeast Columbia Way (Exit 1) will be closed from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

In Vancouver, some streets will be temporarily closed.

Several streets around the Vancouver Barracks site will be closed to traffic or be under traffic control all day, or right before and after the fireworks show.

Parking

At Clark College, parking will be $10 in lots at Fort Vancouver Way; drivers must arrive before 9 p.m. street closures.

Paid parking will be available at a lot at Fifth and S streets for $10 a vehicle.

In downtown Vancouver, all parking meters, street spaces and city of Vancouver lots are free for the holiday.

C-Tran

Special-event shuttles will provide service to the fireworks celebration only from C-TRAN’s transit center at Westfield Vancouver mall.

Buses depart from the north lot of the Westfield Vancouver mall (near the former Mervyn’s location) to the Fort Vancouver National Site, approximately every 15 minutes between 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Return service to the mall begins immediately following the fireworks display.