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News / Clark County News

July 4 fireworks show canceled at Fort Vancouver National Site

Historic Trust cites concerns stemming from coronavirus

By Erin Middlewood, Columbian Managing Editor for Content
Published: April 8, 2020, 5:55pm

COVID-19 is scotching yet another beloved community event: the 2020 fireworks spectacular at Fort Vancouver National Site.

The Historic Trust on Wednesday issued an announcement that it’s canceling the Fourth of July show to “be responsible and ensure the safety and health of the community.”

The coronavirus has killed 421 people in Washington and 13 in Clark County. Gov. Jay Inslee issued a stay-home order until May 4, but he didn’t rule out extending it for longer.

“It is with deep regret we have had to make this decision. This is one of our favorite community events. We look forward to coming together next year for the Independence Day celebration,” said David Pearson, CEO/president of The Historic Trust, in a press release.

The nonprofit organization collaborates with the National Park Service and the city of Vancouver to produce the event.

The fireworks show, once touted as the biggest west of the Mississippi River, has long been Vancouver’s signature annual gathering.

In its 57-year history, the event has only been canceled one other time — in 2009 due to the Great Recession.

The first Fort Vancouver event took place in 1963, when an estimated 17,500 people watched sky-diving exhibitions, water battles by local firefighters and a fireworks show. The event quickly grew, and at its height, attracted crowds of 60,000 or more to the fort’s parade grounds and thousands more to surrounding areas.

The celebration’s history has been marked by pleas for community support, warnings of imminent collapse and last-minute donations so the show could go on.

In recent years, the Independence Day event found stability with scaled-back festivities and support from Columbia Credit Union.

“It’s certainly understandable why our community’s iconic tradition is canceled as we flatten the curve on this pandemic virus,” said Steve Kenny, the credit union’s president and CEO. “2021’s patriotic gathering will be even more special after this year’s hiatus.”