Wind gusts reaching 31 mph pelted the 200-foot barge for the River of Fire Festival fireworks display Tuesday at its Port of Pasco dock, but tonight promises mild 3 to 6 mph winds and clear skies, according to the National Weather Service.
"In 26 years, we've never had to cancel the fireworks show because of wind," said Lori Mattson, president of the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Mattson said today's forecast will make for a great day.
And the fireworks display will make for a great night, said John Falleen, fireworks display operator for Western Display Fireworks.
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The two large fireworks shows in Kennewick and Pasco and this morning's Fourth of July parade in Pasco are just a few of today's Independence Day festivities.
Tuesday morning, Falleen and other pyrotechnicians loaded 17 steel-bound crates of fireworks onto the barge.
Each crate nestled about 30 metal tubes for launching shells.
And another wave of smaller boxes, holding 25 to 150 missiles each, were on the way, Falleen said.
The 20-minute fireworks display scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. will cost $25,000, Falleen estimated.
The largest shell -- 10 inches in diameter -- costs about $3,000 alone, he said.
The display will light up the sky with such shapes as serpents, flowers, smiley faces and Saturns -- and a few new surprises -- Falleen said.
His favorite firework, called the Zipper, fires 150 shots in a few seconds, shaping a line that zig-zags across the sky.
"(The Zipper) paints the sky like a brush," Falleen said.
But before the fireworks begin, an entire day of family activities awaits at Columbia Park, Mattson said.
Children can play on the Playground of Dreams or in the splash zone, and rides on the J&S Dreamland Express train are free for children and $1 for adults from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There also will be a variety of vendors selling wares and food.
"Come barbecue, bring a volleyball and make a day of it," she said.
A seat at the park will provide an excellent view of the fireworks display barge, which will be anchored in line with the park's veterans memorial. Tidewater Terminal Co. donated the barge for the event.
Parking at Columbia Park costs $7 per vehicle, and alcohol and personal fireworks are prohibited.
Other Independence Day happenings in the region include:
The fireworks show starts about 10 p.m. at Gesa Stadium on Burden Boulevard next to TRAC. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Pasco's Grand Ole Fourth parade starts at 10 a.m. at the corner of Third Avenue and Marie Street.
The bands, floats and horses will travel down Fourth Avenue, turn right on Sylvester Street, then left on 14th Avenue and end at Memorial Park, 1520 W. Shoshone St.
The parade's grand marshal is long-time Pasco resident and community leader Neal Smiley.
But before the parade starts, there's a pancake breakfast at Memorial Park starting at 7 a.m., served up by Pasco Kiwanis Club members. Cost is $5.
A Fourth of July Show & Shine is planned from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Prosser City Park, corner of Seventh Street and Sommers Avenue. Admission is $15 and includes lunch.
The Kiddie Parade starts at11 a.m. from the courthouse on Market Street and ends at the City Park. There will be inflatable bounce houses, slides and games, including three-legged races, pie eating contests and bingo, at the park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. A stage show featuringthe Sevigny Sisters starts at 11:30 a.m.
Food vendors will be on site all day, and the giant fireworks show sponsored by the Prosser Rotary Club starts at dusk at Art Fiker Stadium.
The Stars and Stripes Celebration starts at noon at Butte Park and includes live music, food vendors, bounce house, face painting and juggler, as well as tug-of-war and sponge relay races.
The town's Family Aquatic Center will have a barbecue and belly flop contest before the fireworks show. Admission to the center is $12 for ages 17 and older and $8 for ages 16 and younger. Fireworks starts at dusk.
The Independence Day celebration centers around Bard Park. The fireman's breakfast at 7 a.m. costs $6 for adults and $3 for kids 12 and younger. There will be fun runs, various sporting events, clogging and tae kwon do demonstrations, hot dog and pie eating contests and a parade. Admission is free. The parade starts at10 a.m., loops around town and ends up back at Bard Park.
Fireworks will be set off near the high school at dusk.
The fireworks show will be over the Columbia River starting at dusk and can be best viewed from Marina Park. Daytime festivities at Marina Park include bingo, a horseshoe tournament, food vendors, kids games and a talent show. Admission is free.
-- Reporter Dori O'Neal contributed to this report.
-- Eric Francavilla: 582-1535; firstname.lastname@example.org