Rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air — down here, up there and way over there, too.
A rocking new fireworks display and Independence Day celebration will brighten the north Clark County sky this year. The event is intended as an alternative to the annual, traditional party that’s been held for decades at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Add the annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks show hosted by the Port of Camas-Washougal, and this year you’ve got three different Clark County Independence Day parties featuring bright colors and things that go boom.
Meanwhile, the town of Ridgefield is skipping the fireworks but boasting a perfect Fourth of July attraction of a different sort: a hometown evening baseball game in the new Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.
Here’s everything you need to know about attending Independence Day celebrations in Clark County, whether they’re big-budget pyrotechnics or just nicely neighborly.
Vancouver Fireworks Spectacular: The annual mass gathering at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is always billed as “the largest fireworks show in the Pacific Northwest.” It’s a 56-year tradition in Vancouver (interrupted only in 2009, when financial problems scuttled the show), put on by The Historic Trust and city.
It may be a beloved event, but attendance has fluctuated along with the entertainment and food preceding the fireworks, according to Julie Harmon of The Historic Trust. Last year, there was no music and no food, and attendance dropped below 25,000 from the prior year’s 35,000, Harmon said.
Food and music are back this year. Starting at 4 p.m., food trucks will serve up favorites like barbecue, falafel, shave ice and elephant ears. Three bands will take main stage on East Fifth Street from 5 to 9:45 p.m.: Bottleneck Blues, the Woodin Creek Band and Yuma de Cuba. The fireworks show by Seattle’s Western Display Fireworks starts at 10:05 p.m., live streamed by KGW-TV with music provided by KUPL-The Bull (98.7 FM).
This free event is open to everyone, but entry will be controlled and security-checked at gates around the site. Gates open at 8 a.m., but Fourth of July festivities don’t get underway until 4 p.m. (If you mean to show up very early, the fort and Pearson Air Museum are open for visitors as usual.)
Free parking is available throughout downtown Vancouver on this federal holiday; $10 public parking is available at Providence Academy and a grass lot east of Pearson on Fifth Street between S and U streets. From 6 to 8:30 p.m., C-Tran will provide free shuttle service every 15 minutes from the Fisher’s Landing and 99th Street transit centers — but not from the Vancouver Mall this year. Shuttles will return passengers to the transit centers immediately after the fireworks show. Accessible parking will be free along Fifth Street for those with valid ADA permits, with a reserved ADA viewing area nearby.
Blankets, lawn chairs, small canopies and small tents are welcome. Alcohol and barbecuing are not permitted. No pets other than service animals. For more information, visit www.official4thofjuly.com.
Clark County Fourth at the Fairgrounds: Clark County and the ilani resort and casino are co-sponsoring this inaugural event, designed to provide another communal fireworks alternative — and to lessen street-level mayhem and danger on the only day when it’s still legal to launch fireworks in unincorporated areas. Two years ago, county Councilor Julie Olson’s house outside Ridgefield was badly burned by stray Fourth of July fireworks; she was a strong proponent of this event and last month told The Columbian the point is to encourage a community celebration “and try not to blow up our neighborhoods.”
Clark County Event Center CEO Mickey Webb said preparations have gone smoothly. “All the security and parking is in place, and we are finalizing the traffic plan,” he said last week. “I just finished a meeting with (Clark County) Fire District 6, and they’ll have a fire engine apparatus standing by.”
Parties Inc., will provide inflatable fun for children — a bouncy house, slide, games and much more, as well as a corn hole tournament. Adults will enjoy the beer and wine garden; everyone will enjoy food vendors on site. That will all be just east of the grandstand area, where the main event will be held.
That’s the eight-way Battle of the Bands, starting at 5:30 p.m. and continuing until shortly before the fireworks show at 10 p.m. The bands, who had to audition via references and a video performance, are: Within Sight, MadWagon, Code Blue, Beat Frequency, Moving Pictures, Balance Trick, The Departures and DND7. Four winners will be selected via an online poll; all get cash prizes, with the top winner taking $1,500 and opportunities to play at the 2019 Clark County Fair and in ilani’s Muze Lounge.
Admission is free, but parking at the site is $6, cash only. C-Tran will provide free shuttles from the 99th Street Transit Center and the Ridgefield Park & Ride on Northeast 65th Avenue.
We can’t report anything about turnout and traditions for this one because it’s brand new. Consider being part of it — a real Clark County first.
Port of Camas-Washougal Fourth of July Concert and Celebration: Vancouver isn’t the only town around here with a spiffy new waterfront park. Washougal Waterfront Park opened in 2016 at 56 S. First St., and its new natural play area, featuring a Sasquatch who’s 9 feet tall even while kneeling so intrepid kids can climb aboard, just opened last month.
Check out this sprawling riverside park and enjoy food carts and a beer garden. The Junebugs, an energetic folk-rock trio, will play from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and Five Guys Named Moe, a local party band much bigger than its name, takes over from 8:30 to 10 p.m.
Fireworks begin at 10 p.m. This event is free. Signs and personnel will direct you to free parking.
“Land of the Free, Home of the Spudders”: Ridgefield’s massive-yet-quaint Fourth of July parade has become the stuff of legends and remains a chief reason why folks still like to call this town “Mayberry.” But local and area growth have spurred a few changes this year — mainly, the event has foregone its own fireworks show in support of the nearby celebration at the fairgrounds. Also, thanks to the Ridgefield Community Library expanding into the adjacent former community center space, there won’t be a firefighters’ pancake breakfast this year.
What you get instead of all of that: a hometown baseball game. At 6 p.m., the brand new Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex at 3101 S. Hillhurst Road hosts the U.S. Military All-Stars (an independent, nonprofit team of veterans) versus Showtime College Prep. Tickets are $10.
Everything else remains the same as legend. Registration opens at 7 a.m. for the Independence Run, featuring a Kids Dash at 7:50 a.m. followed by 5K and 10K races at 8 a.m. A kids-and-pets pre-parade launches at 10:15 a.m. from the corner of Pioneer Street and Main Avenue, with no registration or fee required.
This year’s main event will be a rolling potato party. That’s the 11 a.m. parade, taking the theme “Land of the Free, Home of the Spudders.”
After that, Overlook Park at Pioneer and Main will be your Fourth of July headquarters, with food, drink and craft vendors. There’s a $5 wristband fee for the afternoon children’s activities, including face painting, magic show, bounce houses, reptile show and more. There’s also a noon performance by singer Tony Starlight, a free pie-eating contest at 2 p.m. and dancing from 3 to 6 p.m. That’s when everybody will be heading over to the baseball game.
“We do hope to bring the fireworks show back again next year,” organizer Sandy Schill said. “It’s nice when you’re in a small community, you can come down with your neighbors and be at the fireworks within 10 minutes. And then be home again in 10 minutes afterwards. When the Fourth is on a weekday, not everyone has the next day off of work.”
Felida Children’s Parade: Kids will seize the streets in this west-side county neighborhood on hand-decorated bikes, wagons, strollers and any other which way, except skateboards and motorized vehicles; only motorized wheelchairs are allowed. It’s a tradition launched by a local church and taken over in 2004 by the Felida Neighborhood Association.
Festivities begin at 10:45 a.m. with the Vancouver Community Concert Band playing the national anthem in Felida Community Park; the parade assembles at the north park entrance at 11 a.m. and leaves at 11:10 a.m., with local streets closed to cars; cyclists must wear helmets. It returns in half an hour for refreshments, activities (including a fly-fishing demonstration) and information about community groups and services.
Free fresh fruit and bottled water will be available. Picnics and picnic blankets are welcome. The event wraps up at 1:45 p.m.
GETTING THERE: For transit questions or assistance, call C-Tran at 360-695-0123.
If You Go
What: Vancouver Fireworks Spectacular.
When: Festivities at 4 p.m., fireworks at 10:05 p.m.
Where: Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, downtown Vancouver.
On the web: www.official4thofjuly.com
What: Clark County Fourth at the Fairgrounds.
When: Festivities at 5 p.m., Battle of the Bands at 5:30 p.m. (approximately), fireworks at 10 p.m. (approximately)
Where: Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield.
Admission: Free, but parking is $6, cash only.
On the web: https://www.clarkcountyfourth.com
What: Port of Camas-Washougal Fourth of July Concert and Celebration.
When: 6 to 11:30 p.m.
Where: 56 S. First St., Washougal.
What: Ridgefield Fourth of July Celebration.
When: Kids’ parade at 10:15 a.m., main parade at 11 a.m.; food, drink and fun noon to 6 p.m.
Where: Downtown Ridgefield.
Admission: Free; $5 wristband for children’s activities.
What: Felida Children’s Parade and Celebration.
When: 10:45 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Where: Felida Community Park, west of Northwest 36th Avenue on 122nd Street.