Long before fireworks mimicking "bombs bursting in air" lit up the sky, Tri-Citians already were staking out their places on both sides of the Columbia River.
Keni Pfeiffer of Richland said that when she and her family arrived at Columbia Park at 11 a.m., most of the spaces under trees already were taken.
But she and her daughter, Tyla Pfeiffer, 3, and mother Donna Cox of Kennewick had come prepared to celebrate the Fourth of July in comfort, with a colorful umbrella large enough to shade all three.
Tyla ate a snow cone while Cox did what she said she looked forward to the most -- watching the river, where boaters were taking advantage of the warm day.
Tyla had examined the spray park, "But I didn't get in the water," she said.
Pfeiffer, however, was waiting for the fireworks. It's the family's first year celebrating Independence Day at the River of Fire Festival, as they recently moved to the area.
Some children started getting ready for fireworks early.
Jaden Lara, 6, of Richland, threw a little pop-it against the concrete path, making a snapping sound. He and others decorated the Sacagawea Heritage Trail with small white carcasses of expired pop-its.
A slight breeze carried the aroma of cooking hamburger among Tri-Citians enjoying Independence Day along the river.
Children waved as the J&S Dreamland Express train whirred, carrying them through the park and along the river.
Between tents and spread blankets, volleyballs and badminton shuttlecocks flew over nets or and baseballs were launched into waiting mitts.
And American flags invaded the park, on clothing and anything handy, from trees to umbrellas.
Mike Huyck of Richland had his large American flag hanging above his chair.
"I've got a patriotic streak," Huyck said. He served in the Air Force and Navy between 1981-89.
Kerri Huyck said it was their first year celebrating Independence Day along the Columbia River. She said she was looking forward to being able to sit back and relax.
But they weren't sure if they would stay for the fireworks, she said.