MARYSVILLE — Folks can park their cars near downtown Marysville, or watch from home, as fireworks illuminate the sky near the Ebey Slough waterfront this Independence Day.
It’s the only public pyrotechnics show in Snohomish County this year.
Those places decided organized gatherings weren’t worth the risk and would contradict the state’s restrictions on crowd size.
“Really the challenge was how could we do a fireworks show, outside of the festival there at Legion Park, and keep people from crowding into our parks?” said Lori Cummings, an Everett executive director who oversees parks and the cultural arts departments. “That’s what they do, and it’s predictable and understandable.”
Thousands showed up at the event at Marysville Pilchuck High School, city spokesperson Connie Mennie said.
This year, the pyrotechnics are expected to shoot about 400 feet high — 100 more than last year. That way people who live in the southern part of the city can view the show from home, or people can watch from farther away.
“After this kind of tough spring we’ve all had, we thought it would be good to offer a little joy and festivity if we could,” Mennie said.
The show is set to begin around 10 p.m. Those who watch from their cars can tune the radio to KXA-FM (101.1) for synchronized music. The city reminds people not to gather in big groups. The show is also scheduled to air later on the city’s TV channel.
Future firework shows have not been approved in Marysville, so it’s not clear yet if the display will go on next year, Mennie said.
In neighboring Tulalip, Boom City is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. through the Fourth of July. People can buy fireworks there but can’t light them.
That’s because of a different insurance plan this year due to the coronavirus, Tulalip Tribes Chairwoman Teri Gobin said in a video posted on Facebook by Tulalip News.
“There is absolutely no lighting of fireworks in the Boom City area,” she said.
Stands are spread out more than usual to promote social distancing. A limited number of cars are admitted to the parking lot at a given time. Workers selling products are required to wear masks. Customers are encouraged to wear face coverings, as well.
Arlington asked residents to decorate front porches, yards and stores for a “Drive By Fourth of July.” People can create their own parade tour by following an online map of registered locations. Those who want to sign up can visit Facebook.com/StillyValleyChamber for more information.
Bothell had a similar idea with its first “Porch Parade,” whereby people can decorate patios, porches or storefronts. Find out more at Bothellwa.gov/2020PorchParade.
In Darrington, a community fair, fireworks show and traditional parade have all been canceled.
Instead, Darrington Fire District 24 is putting on a neighborhood event for those who live in town, Deputy Fire Chief Drew Bono said.
Fire trucks are taking some different routes past houses in the morning. Deputy Fire Chief Jeff McClelland helped organize the procession.
“I just want people to have a good time in our community, and some type of normalcy,” he said.
Usually one of the main Independence Day events is at the high school football stadium, where people gather to watch fireworks.
Bono and McClelland hope the smaller Fourth of July can be a good memory for children and a way to unite the community in these hard times.
The show’s over
The Edmonds Chamber of Commerce has hosted a parade and fireworks show for more than a century. The last time it suspended Independence Day festivities was during World War II.
“This will be the first time in about 75 years that there will be no Fourth of July celebration in Edmonds,” chamber president and CEO Greg Urban said.
The Edmonds Chamber, which puts on large events such as a chowder cook off, Halloween trick-or-treating, Taste of Edmonds and a tree lighting, considered altering its plans but called off An Edmonds Kind of Fourth to follow state public health guidelines for gathering size.
“I’d rather have our community miss it this year and really support it next year than come out and go, ‘Ugh,’” Urban said.
It’s a major fundraising and planning task that costs between $70,000 and $80,000 and involves more than 100 volunteers to staff the races, the parade and the fireworks show.
Everett was in a similar spot. The city decided earlier in June to officially cancel the Colors of Freedom Fourth fireworks and parade. At the time, Snohomish County was entering Phase 2 and eyeing Phase 3, when larger gatherings would be allowed. But that didn’t happen as the number of coronavirus cases stopped declining and started rising again.
“It has proven to be the right decision based on what we know today,” Cummings said.
The 20-minute fireworks show costs about $70,000, she said. Plus there are about $50,000 in expenses for city staff related to clean-up, safety and traffic.
Everett won’t incur any costs for canceling the show because the contract, in which the city commits to covering any funding gap that the nonprofit Fourth of July Foundation can’t meet through donations and sponsorships, was never signed.
As Everett sorts out its budget losses from months of dramatically reduced sales tax revenue, there’s no guarantee that the fireworks show will return next year.
Before you light
Last year, the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office had 349 reports of fireworks-related incidents from clinics, fire agencies and hospitals across the state. Most of those reports were for injuries, the Fire Marshal’s Office said, urging caution for anyone planning to set off fireworks at home by buying from a licensed and permitted retailer, and lighting only where legal.
Arlington, Bothell, Darrington, Granite Falls, Lake Stevens, Monroe, Snohomish, Stanwood and Sultan restrict when people can light fireworks.
This is also the last year before a fireworks ban begins in 2021 for unincorporated areas of south Snohomish County. But that shouldn’t be like last call at the bar, said Urban, the Edmonds Chamber president and CEO who is also a South County Fire commissioner.
“The concern really is private purchase and lighting of fireworks,” he said.
Everett parks with views of Camano Island, Hat Island, Tulalip and Whidbey Island will be open, but bathrooms and playgrounds remain closed. Cummings said the city won’t patrol to keep people away or from crowding the spaces.