Spectators watch fireworks

Spectators watched as fireworks explode celebrating Independence Day in Long Beach in 2020.

LONG BEACH PENINSULA — Although the city of Long Beach won’t be holding its official Fourth of July fireworks show this year, the peninsula is once again expecting a fireworks extravaganza next month.

Keeping in line with what’s been an insanely busy tourism season so far this year, the Fourth of July weekend will likely draw large crowds up and down the peninsula to celebrate Independence Day. And, as always, private fireworks use is expected in abundance.

As it did last year, the city of Long Beach has opted against holding an official fireworks show on July 4. In 2020, the annual show was canceled after Washington State Parks rejected the city’s permit in May, although the mayor and city councilors were also discussing canceling the show themselves.

The decision to cancel the 2021 show came last fall as the city was crafting its 2021 budget, and officials decided against committing financial resources to holding a show because of the uncertainty created by the pandemic at the time. Cases were beginning to rise again in the county, and neither Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson had yet to report results from Phase 3 clinical trials of vaccines that have gone on to fuel the country’s vigorous reopening push.

Ilwaco fireworks

One official fireworks show is returning to the peninsula, however. The Port of Ilwaco will be hosting its traditional first-Saturday-in-July show on July 3. The show, dubbed “Feel the Thunder,” will begin around dusk at the port.

Earlier that morning, the port will host the ninth edition of its Firecracker 5k Walk/Run at 9 a.m. The event begins at the east end of the Port of Ilwaco on Outer Harbor Way, goes north to Lake Street, then west to Main Street and up Discovery Trail with the return route going through the port.

To register for the event, visit tinyurl.com/k9yw4edk. Registration costs $35 and includes an event shirt, with proceeds going toward supporting the fireworks show and other Ilwaco events. Shirt sizes are guaranteed if pre-registered prior to June 26. Race-day registration starts at 7:30 a.m. on July 3 at the port, and those aged 14 and under participate for free.

Private purchases

Licensed fireworks stands can begin selling fireworks to consumers on June 28, from 12-11 p.m. The sale period continues from June 29 to July 4, from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, and on July 5 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. According to the Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office, 607 licenses have been issued in 2021 for retail fireworks stands, down slightly from 633 stands in 2020. Fireworks stands are already being stood up at locations on the peninsula, in preparation for an expected rush beginning June 28.

The fireworks discharge period largely mirrors the sales period, beginning on June 28 and lasting from 12-11 p.m. The discharge period is from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. from June 29 to July 3, 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. on July 4, and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on July 5.

The Pacific County Fire District No. 1 is also reminding beachgoers about laws regarding bonfires and fireworks on the beach ahead of the holiday weekend. Bonfires are only allowed 100 feet or more west of the dune grass line and are limited in size to 4 feet-by-4 feet-by-3 feet. Fireworks can only be discharged 150 feet or more west of the dune grass line, and all aerial fireworks must be aimed in a westerly direction toward the ocean.

Violations of the rules, the district said, could result in criminal prosecution. Offenders — including the parents or legal guardians of minors — could also be held liable for the cost of fire suppression in the event of a fire that was caused by a bonfire or fireworks.

Safety and cleanup

Long Beach City Administrator David Glasson said that the city, in conjunction with Washington State Parks, will likely have a digital readerboard posted at the Bolstad beach approach, reminding beachgoers of the bonfire and fireworks rules, as well as advising of dangerous surf and tide conditions. The reminder about the surf comes in response to the drowning of a 14-year-old boy in Long Beach on Memorial Day, Glasson said.

On July 4, there is a 7.0 high tide at 9:36 p.m., meaning vehicles that parked farther out earlier in the evening may need to be moved inland. Consider parking in a safe spot and walking to the beach.

The Grassroots Garbage Gang is also hosting an organized community beach cleanup day on the morning of July 5, after not hosting an official cleanup last year due to pandemic concerns. Volunteers will be stationed at each of the peninsula’s major beach approaches at 9:30 a.m. to hand out bags and direct participants to where their help is most needed.

The gang is looking for people to adopt sections of the beach to clean on regular cleanup days. Those interested in adopting a stretch of beach can email join@ourbeach.org. Additionally, the group is looking for volunteers with four-wheel drive vehicles to support the beach cleanup efforts and who can pick up filled garbage bags and transport them to a dumpster at a beach approach.

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