With the world and region continuing to grapple with a global pandemic, local Independence Day celebrations are expected to take on a slightly different tone this year.
The city of Pullman has canceled most of the programming surrounding its annual slate of events, and said its yearly fireworks display will be launched from an undisclosed location in an effort to keep residents from gathering in large groups. Instead, residents should look to the north around 10 p.m. if they wish to see the show, Pullman Deputy Fire Marshal Tony Nuttman said.
“It is true that they’re not giving out the location but it has been checked and it’s an appropriate location that people will be able to see the fireworks from,” Nuttman said. “They’re still looking at about a 15-minute show ... but I’m assuming it’s gonna be about the same kind of show as it was last year.”
Those putting on personal displays are only allowed to set fire to fuse within Pullman city limits from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. July 3 and from 9 a.m. to midnight on the Fourth. Moscow revelers may fire away until midnight July 5, but possessing or discharging fireworks on federal public land is strictly prohibited.
Both Washington and Idaho have laws on the books prohibiting most explosive or aerial fireworks — this includes bottle rockets. Moscow Fire Marshal Dan Ellinwood cautioned some fireworks stands in towns not too far from Moscow or Pullman sell aerial fireworks fireworks that are prohibited in both states.
“If you’re putting on your personal shows, remember that you can only fire the fireworks off that are Washington state-approved,” Nuttman reiterated, noting the department recently posted guidelines for what kinds of fireworks are permitted on its Facebook page at https://bit.ly/3g8554W.
“If you’re going to shoot fireworks off at your house, make sure you do it in a safe manner — make sure that you have a bucket of water that you could put the fireworks in after they’ve been shot off and make sure you have a garden hose or a fire extinguisher nearby.”
Ellinwood added that only adults older than 14 should be lighting the fireworks and anyone handling fireworks should avoid consuming alcohol. While the region did get some welcome wet weather in the late spring, he said, people should still be careful to light fireworks in an area free of dry vegetation.
“Things are starting to dry up a little bit, but we’ve had some unusual late weather that has kept most things green,” he said. “But we definitely still need to be very cautious for fireworks. So I don’t want to give anybody that false security.”
Moscow resident Keely Emerine-Mix said she would be unlikely to make much of an effort to view public displays even in a year not overshadowed by a viral pandemic. She said fireworks are dangerous, bad for the environment and a waste of money. However, she said, she and visiting family may spend part of the evening looking to the night sky if only to pass the time.
“We have extended family from Seattle in — they’re a lot more into fireworks than I am,” she said. “I suspect my mother-in-law and I will sit back and drain a bottle of Pinot Grigio and watch the other ones do their patriotic thing”
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to email@example.com.