Western Display Fireworks, the Oregon company that will create a pyrotechnics show at Marysville Pilchuck High School Thursday night, put on this similar show in Boise, Idaho, in 2016. (Western Display Fireworks)

Western Display Fireworks, the Oregon company that will create a pyrotechnics show at Marysville Pilchuck High School Thursday night, put on this similar show in Boise, Idaho, in 2016. (Western Display Fireworks)

Kaboom! Marysville’s Fourth fireworks show a first in decades

Fire agency reports fewer incidents since city’s ban on personal pyrotechnics took effect in 2017.

In the “Hustling Town” of Marysville, an 1896 newspaper ad promised, revelers would join in Snohomish County’s biggest and best Fourth of July celebration. The nation’s 120th birthday party along Ebey Slough included oratory, games and a brass band.

Fireworks weren’t mentioned in that Marysville Globe ad. And it’s been years since the city presented a professional fireworks show on the Fourth. “It hasn’t been in decades,” said Connie Mennie, the city’s spokeswoman, who didn’t know when Marysville last sanctioned a display.

That will change Thursday.

The city will present a free, family-friendly Fourth of July program with a 20-minute professional fireworks show on the Marysville Pilchuck High School grounds. Gates open at 7 p.m. Lawn games and live music by the Bellingham band Baby Cakes will entertain the crowd before the aerial display, and snacks will be for sale.

Starting about 9:45 p.m., Western Display Fireworks, an Oregon company, will light up the sky with fireworks choreographed to music. The public is asked to bring blankets or lawn chairs. Pets, alcohol, smoking and personal fireworks aren’t allowed at the site, the high school’s ball fields. Parking will be on campus, with the entrance at 108th Street NE.

An ordinance banning possession, sale or use of fireworks in Marysville, passed by the City Council in 2016, took effect in January 2017.

Thursday’s event was approved by the City Council in November. The city’s hotel-motel tax will cover the estimated $41,000 cost, Mennie said.

The council’s approval of a fireworks show was for this year only, yet Mennie said an annual event hasn’t been ruled out. “This year is a test case — whether the city wants to come out and support it,” she said. “They can’t have fireworks at home.”

Oration and brass band, but no fireworks, were highlights of July 4, 1896, in Marysville, according to this ad published in the Marysville Globe. (Marysville Historical Society)

Oration and brass band, but no fireworks, were highlights of July 4, 1896, in Marysville, according to this ad published in the Marysville Globe. (Marysville Historical Society)

According to the Marysville Fire District, the 2-year-old ordinance has greatly reduced fireworks-related emergency calls. During last year’s July 4 holiday, the agency didn’t respond to a single fireworks-related incident within the city, said a statement released last week by Christie Veley, a Marysville Fire spokeswoman. That’s compared with eight fireworks-related incidents in Marysville during the 2017 holiday, nine in 2016 and 29 in 2015.

The ban prohibits the use, sale or trade of any fireworks, including sparklers. This year, violators face a $513 fine, up from $257 in 2018, and possible jail time. Devices considered “trick and novelties” under state law — party poppers, snakes and toy caps — aren’t covered by the ban.

Heather Gobet is president and owner of Western Display Fireworks. Based in Canby, Oregon, the company has a 65-year history of presenting shows in the Northwest.

“We’re doing 200 shows on Thursday,” Gobet said. Among them is the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Seafair Summer Fourth display on Lake Union. “They’re throughout the Northwest, from the Canadian border at Blaine to Brookings and Medford near the California border. We do a huge show in Idaho Falls.”

Marysville booked the company’s services last fall, Gobet said. The show was assembled in Oregon, she said, and six to eight crew members will be in Marysville to set it off.

The people of early Marysville dressed up for the fourth of July in the 1890s. (Marysville Historical Society)

The people of early Marysville dressed up for the fourth of July in the 1890s. (Marysville Historical Society)

The company’s fireworks used to be lit by someone holding a flare. It’s now done through an electrical panel. “Each one of the shells is connected with an e-match,” Gobet said.

As more cities ban personal fireworks, Gobet said she’s seeing “even fire departments getting involved in sponsorships.”

In Marysville, where the Kiwanis Club will be a vendor on the Fourth, Mennie said people are used to seeing a big fireworks display during June’s Strawberry Festival. With the Fourth coming, that didn’t happen this year.

Mennie acknowledged that the fireworks ban has lots of critics.

“The first year, we got a lot of hostility,” Mennie said. “It seems to be dissipating with time. They’re tired of being angry about it. A lot of people are very thankful.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Marysville fireworks

The city of Marysville will present a free Fourth of July fireworks display at Marysville Pilchuck High School, 5611 108th St. NE. Gates open 7 p.m. Thursday for lawn games, live music and snacks for sale. Fireworks start about 9:45 p.m. No pets, alcohol, smoking or personal fireworks.

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