One of the biggest Fourth of July displays in the Pacific Northwest will bring lots of dazzle and sizzle to the skies above Fort Vancouver on Wednesday.
“This will be one of the most vibrant fireworks shows we’ve ever seen,” said Mike True, president and CEO of The Historic Trust. The nonprofit organization produces the event, which is held on the National Park Service grounds at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.
The Historic Trust is billing the 2018 edition of Vancouver’s Fireworks Spectacular as the largest show in the Southwest Washington and Portland region. It also will be one of the most impressive displays in a three-state area, Heather Gobet said.
She should know. Gobet is the owner of Western Display Fireworks, which is supplying the pyrotechnics for about 200 July 4 fireworks shows this year.
“We do business in Washington, Oregon and Idaho,” Gobet said. As far as the Fort Vancouver show goes, “This is a top five.”
IF YOU GO• What: Vancouver's annual fireworks display. • When: July 4; people advised to arrive after 6 p.m.; fireworks begin at 10:05 p.m. • Where: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. • Cost: Free. • Information: thehistorictrust.org/calendar/vancouvers-fireworks-spectacular
Western Display also is providing the fireworks for the July 4 celebration presented by the Port of Camas-Washougal.
While Fort Vancouver’s 10:05 p.m. display will be a 20-minute performance, it is the culmination of work that started before the 2017 fireworks were even ignited.
“It’s a yearlong process,” said Gobet, the fourth-generation owner of Western Display. “We have to place our orders before the current season transpires. We already have our 2019 orders placed for guaranteed delivery.”
Vancouver’s Fireworks Spectacular, presented by Columbia Credit Union, is free, a format that was introduced last year. And like the 2017 show, it is an evening event, rather than the all-day celebrations that marked the Fourth at Fort Vancouver for decades.
Vehicle access in the area will be restricted on July 4 and security gates will be in place. Event organizers recommend that people arrive after 6 p.m. Free C-Tran shuttles will run every 15 minutes from the Fisher’s Landing Transit Center and the 99th Street Transit Center, with return service after the firework show.
If you do want to make a day of it, you’ll find plenty to do at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Starting at noon, all park facilities will be open to pedestrian access after visitors enter through one of the three security gates. The reconstructed Fort Vancouver will be open from noon to 8 p.m. The usual entry fee ($7 for adults) will apply; children 15 and younger are free.
National Park Service staff and volunteers will be dressed in period costumes to represent the fur-trade era. The Visitor Center, including the bookstore, will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Pearson Air Museum will be open from noon to 8 p.m. The Friends of Fort Vancouver also will operate a sales tent on East Fifth Street, adjacent to the air museum, from noon to 8 p.m. Entry to the Visitor Center and Pearson Air Museum is free. Both sites will have exhibits and films. A flight service, Nostalgic Warbird & Biplane Rides, will provide flights throughout the day. For information on costs, call 512-203-2341.
It’s not just Independence Day at the fort, of course. If you’re hankering for parades and entertainment of the sort the fort isn’t providing this year, there are options:
• Ridgefield holds its huge annual downtown parade and celebration all day long. A firefighters’ pancake breakfast will be served starting at 7 a.m. at the Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N. Main Ave.; 7 a.m. is also when registration opens for the holiday fun runs — kids dash (at 7:50 a.m.) and 5K and 10K races (at 8 a.m.). The parade gets going at 11 a.m.; this year’s theme is “Over There, Over There: 100 years of The American Legions and WWI.” After that, Overlook Park is the site of a Lions’ Club lunch followed by music and other entertainment throughout the afternoon. Fireworks at 10:15 p.m., rain or shine; view them from the Port of Ridgefield property, north of Division Street.
• The Felida Neighborhood Association holds its annual children’s parade. Gather at 10:45 a.m. for the national anthem, played by the Vancouver Community Concert Band at the main picnic shelter in Felida Community Park, Northwest 122nd Street west of 36th Avenue. The parade leaves the north side of the park at 11 a.m., covers 1.3 miles and returns to the south side for refreshments, games, community information and a picnic. Fresh fruit and bottled water provided. Parade participants are encouraged to decorate their bikes, trikes and wagons. Bicyclists must wear helmets.
• The Port of Camas-Washougal holds its annual Fourth of July Concert and Celebration — including fireworks — in Washougal Waterfront Park, 24 S. A St. Beer garden, food vendors and music by the Junebugs (6 p.m.) and Five Guys Named Moe (8:30 p.m.). Fireworks at 10 p.m.