Just before the crimson sky slowly turned into a shade of gray Sunday, Phillip Nguyen set up his digital camera on the edge of the river in Kennewick's Columbia Park.
The Kennewick man was there to capture the River of Fire fireworks display, something he's been doing for the past two years. The July Fourth celebrations are a good time to go out, said Nguyen. "The atmosphere is great."
It's also a special day for him, he said.
"I was a refugee from Vietnam and now I'm an American," Nguyen said in a voice soaked in pride.
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Much like the weather, apart from some blustery afternoon winds, Tri-City firefighters had a relatively mild day.
A minor fire caused by a firecracker at 10:30 p.m. near Edison Street and Highway 240 was quickly put out by firefighters, said Sgt. Ken Lattin of the Kennewick Police Department. Fire crews also took care of a few minor brush fires.
Rollin and Nyla Swanson of Richland were attending their first River of Fire festival. The couple moved to the Tri-Cities about a year ago after living in Ellensburg for 25 years.
The couple said July Fourth symbolizes what America stands for -- liberty and justice for all. And blessed are those who live in here, Nyla added, saying the younger generation of Americans should appreciate the sacrifices made by those who helped America become free from British control in 1776.
Susie Muniz, a sophomore at Umatilla High School, said she comes to see the fireworks show every year. The Independence Day celebrations are a great way for families to have fun while bonding together, she said.
Thousands saw the 20-minute show of beautiful colors and loud bangs over the Columbia River, said Jens Lee of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, which organized the annual River of Fire festival.
"The fireworks were louder this year," Lee said.
Officer Calvin Nash of the Richland Police Department warned a few kids Sunday afternoon for setting off firecrackers in Howard Amon Park. The most common excuse is that they didn't know it's illegal, Nash said.
The Richland park was full of families barbecuing and kids playing or swimming in the river. They came from everywhere, from Seattle, New York, Texas and Arizona, said Carmen Harter, who rents out jet skis in the park.
Business was really good, said her daughter Marilu Dickinson. It was windy, but the water wasn't too cold, she said.
The river view is awesome at Howard Amon Park, said Dawda Singhateh of Portland, who came to celebrate July Fourth with his family. The native of Gambia, a country in western Africa, said he never forgets to celebrate the day, because it represents freedom. It's a moment of pride for him as a naturalized citizen, he said.