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. Not in 2021, though. Here’s where to find out where fireworks are — and are not — allowed in Oregon and SW Washington.
Vancouver’s famed fireworks show, seen from Hayden Island, was canceled in 2020 due to coronavirus. The Waterfront Blues Festival fireworks, the Oaks Park fireworks show, and the Port of Camas-Washougal fireworks show have also been canceled.
In 2021 all the traditional (legal) home fireworks devices like sparklers, cones and “worms” have been banned due to the heat wave.
NEED to watch some fireworks? Your best bet traditionally was the unincorporated areas of Clark County (see map). Not this year (2021). Clark County has banned the sale and use of fireworks through midnight on July 4.
Traditionally, tens of thousands of people flock to the Vancouver Fireworks and watch it from the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site or watch the show from Hayden Island. But not this year. This is only the second time that the event has been canceled. The fireworks shows didn’t return in 2021 due to the heat wave.
Fireworks are banned at all Oregon state park sites, including all beaches along the Oregon coast.
Gates traditionally 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. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted from those who want to support next year’s event.
Illegal fireworks are ones that explode, fly in the air, or eject balls of fire. Legal fireworks shouldn’t travel more than six feet across the ground. Here are the legal fireworks for Portland, Vancouver and Clark County.
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.
Park grounds are open seven days a week from dawn until dusk. The reconstructed Fort, Pearson Air Museum, and the Visitor Center, are open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 am to 5 pm, and closed Sundays and Mondays.
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.