First, COVID canceled the annual fireworks display at Fort Vancouver. Now, the risk of fire may permanently snuff out the spectacular, which has been called off for a third straight year.
Today, the Historic Trust announced that it would scrap the 2022 show due to ongoing concerns about setting off fireworks in an environment where fire danger has become increasingly worse. The Oregonian first reported the development.
Long billed as the largest display west of the Mississippi, the show typically attracts tens of thousands of spectators to the sprawling National Park Service grounds that used to function as a fur trading post just across the river from Portland.
“How to safely wish America ‘Happy Birthday’ in 2022 has been a challenge for cities across the country, as many urban places, especially in the West, are grappling with increased fire hazards,” Amy VanCamp, Historic Trust events director, stated in a press release.
But the possibility of sparking a blaze wasn’t the only worry. VanCamp said the area’s public safety departments have been stressed by both COVID-19 and wildfires over the last two years, and organizers didn’t want to burden already understaffed agencies.
“We had to weigh the risk of spending significant dollars on fireworks while we were still at the height of the Omicron wave,” she added, noting that planning an event of that size takes at least eight to 10 months.
Although there won’t be any pyrotechnics at the fort this year—there’s no word yet on whether they’ll be back at a later date—the Historic Trust is celebrating the Fourth of July one day early with a new tradition: Summer Fest.
The all-ages event will kick off at 11 am Sunday, July 3, at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and feature a range of activities, including lawn games, history tours via military vehicles, an outdoor film screening as well as beer and cider tastings behind the Grant House on Officers Row. Movie nights will continue at the Parade Ground every other Thursday through Sept. 1. Admission to Summer Fest is free, though there will also be vendors selling food on location.
“The Trust’s partners are excited to welcome our community in Vancouver and Southwest Washington to this gorgeous park for smiles, laughter, wide open spaces, as well as all of the movies, dancing, games, food, and music you might expect in July,” said VanCamp.