The barge is gone in Kennewick and certain backyard fireworks are now permitted in Pasco.
It will be a very different Fourth of July this year in the Tri-Cities, and that might take some getting used to for those who like tradition.
For one, the barge that has been used to launch fireworks from the Columbia River for the Kennewick show is gone, so the blast-off will come from the Neil F. Lampson Pit area. That means some viewing spots won’t be available this year, so be ready to be re-directed if you head down to Columbia Park.
Also, Pasco is bucking the trend of banning fireworks and is easing its restrictions. Those safe and sane types will be for sale and allowed for use in city limits for the first time in a long time. We will see how residents and dogs like this new policy.
What has not changed is the reason for the celebration — our nation’s independence.
Stop and mull that — and all it stands for — for a bit. Remember what makes this country great, and the freedoms afforded to us that others can only dream of. Be humble and proud all at once.
Then bust out your best red, white and blue apparel, find a place to gather with family or friends and enjoy the pinnacle of summer. Barbecue, summer fruits and sparklers will be in full force. Cabins, lakes and campgrounds reach capacity and many folks head to higher elevations looking for a little relief from the heat.
That heat we’ve been feeling recently can put a big damper on the celebration. We can cool off in a pool, under a sprinkler or in the shade of a tree. But the heat makes much of the landscape around us dry, turning native vegetation into prime tinder.
Fire season has gone from a late summer and fall worry to something stretching much deeper into the year. We’ve already seen substantial fires on wildlands close to home near Vernita and in Switzler Canyon south of Finley. Last Thursday a fire along Interstate 82 and near Benton City threatened homes and closed part of the highway for hours.
Mother Nature sometimes has a mind of her own and none of us can prevent what happens if a spark hits dry vegetation. Accidents happen, but we should all take some personal responsibility this holiday and beyond.
If you’re camping, check the jurisdiction to see if there is a ban on campfires before lighting one. If campfires are allowed, do your diligence to make sure it’s out when your fireside time has concluded. Water, dirt, etc. Bring a shovel. You know the drill.
If you’re cleaning up your yard with the extra time a holiday provides, check for burn bans in your city or county. And while you’re doing yard work, make sure your lawn is watered and there are no flammable materials or dead plants near your home.
And here’s the big one for the week ahead: fireworks. We know – they’re fun and loud and pretty and festive. But use them wisely and where you won’t burn down the neighborhood. Or the forest or a field of wheat. Or your house.
Check out the regulations in the city or county where you live, and Pasco residents should especially be prepared for the new change in rules. The number of personal fireworks that are now allowed is limited.
Yes, you can get a ticket for illegal use of fireworks. Even worse, there can be criminal charges should property damage result. People in our own community have lost their lives using illegal fireworks or fighting the fires that resulted.
Be safe, have fun and think outside your own joy this Fourth of July. Let’s keep everyone in one piece and the hillsides a shade of brown rather than charred.