Independence Day at Fort Vancouver has something for everyone. The big attraction, of course, is the fireworks, the biggest Fireworks show in the Portland Vancouver area.
Gates open at 8am, but suggested arrival time is after 6pm. Security checks will be at all entrance gates. The Historic Trust’s Marshall House and Providence Academy, and the National Park Service’s Fort Vancouver, Pearson Air Museum, and Visitor Center will be open that day. You can bring in food and drinks (no alcohol) as well as blankets and camping chairs to comfortably enjoy the firework show.
The July 4 fireworks show at Fort Vancouver is free, but Fort Vancouver is now the only legal fireworks display in town. A fireworks ban went into effect in 2017 within Vancouver’s city limits.
Revelers at the Fort Vancouver National Site will enjoy fireworks, outdoor concerts on a main stage, and many other treats, reports The Columbian. The Vancouver turnout can hit 45,000. Some streets will be temporarily closed, and others around the event site will be closed or under traffic control all day.
Since the 1860s when the U.S. Army took over Fort Vancouver, it’s been a tradition at the historical site “to make as much noise as possible on the Fourth of July,” said Fort Vancouver park ranger Mike Twist.
Since the show is synchronized to music, creating the fireworks show begins with a soundtrack. Once the soundtrack is received, the team uses pre-visualization software called Finale to choreograph the the sequence of fireworks. Once a show is choreographed, the pyrotechnicians use a system called Galaxis to wirelessly control the sequence of firing each shell according to the sequence generated from Finale. From a control hut on the barge, a wireless controller starts and monitors the show.
Here are some pictures and a short video of the 2017 show:
The county issued 41 permits in 2014 to sell fireworks. The county’s ordinance allows people to discharge fireworks between June 28 and July 4, during certain times of day. Oregon, by contrast, restricts fireworks to sparklers and other devices that aren’t as explosive or dramatic.
Mean Gene Fireworks was the prevailing supplier of fireworks in Washington — until Vancouver’s ban on Fireworks — taking effect in 2017. Last year, the Vancouver City Council passed an ordinance that banned the personal use of any fireworks, including sparklers. The new ordinance went into effect last October.
According to 2015 data from the Washington State Fire Marshal’s office, the use of fireworks caused 241 fires, amounting to $627,080 in damages, as well as 241 injuries. Portland Fire & Rescue, estimated that 80 percent of illegal fireworks come from Washington. From 2010 to 2014, 727 firework related fires in Portland caused $3.7 million in damages. The number of dogs and cats who run away from their homes increases by 25 percent in the time period around July 4.
Getting in and out of Vancouver is the tricky bit. Don’t plan on watching the show from Hayden Island, though. Beach access is limited to around the Red Lion Hotel and most all locations restrict vehicular access to residents unless you have an official pass.