Celebrating America

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The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration fireworks display is billed as the biggest west of the Mississippi River.

But show organizers aren’t content to rest on their laurels. This year, the 22nd annual show will have its largest fireworks display yet.

“Every year we like to go a little bigger,” said Damond Watkins, Melaleuca vice president of cooperate relations. “We’re launching 17,450 shells this year, which is about 200 more than what last year’s show had.”

The Independence Day display will last 30 minutes and feature synchronized music, broadcast on KLCE Classy 97.3. Watkins said Western Display, the company that sets off the fireworks works to improve the show every year.

“In the world of pyrotechnics, you pretty much live and breathe, by how well you can synchronize the show with the music. Western Display has been doing the show for 22 years. They have tweaked their computer program to make it even tighter this year.

“This is going to be a great show and have a really precise synchronization between the firing of the shells and the music.”

Watkins said community members will have a better view of the show than in years past as well. The city of Idaho Falls recently trimmed all hedges and trees around the greenbelt in order to provide the best possible view of the fireworks.

While the fireworks will cap off the night, events run throughout the day. Festivities kick off this year with the Firekracker 5K run at 7:15 a.m., the parade gets underway at 9 a.m.

The theme for this year’s parade is, “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.” The parade starts at 4th Street and Holmes Avenue and travels west on 4th street, south on Boulevard, across 17th Street and ends at Boulevard and Sunnyside Road. The parade has 115 entries.

Following the parade, the Liberty Festival on the Falls will run throughout the day, leading up to the fireworks which are scheduled to start at 10 p.m.

The Liberty Festival will offer entertainment for people between the parade and when the firework display begins in the evening. It will include food and craft vendors, inflatable toys for children, face painting and live music. All events will take place at the greenbelt on Memorial Drive.

City of Idaho Falls spokeswoman Kerry McCullough said each year, the amount of tourists who come to Idaho Falls for the Fourth of July events is a boost to the economy.

“So many people come to town for the fourth of July,” McCullough said. “We estimate that our population doubles on the Fourth of July. A lot of businesses benefit from that growth; it’s really great for the area. This year it will likely be even bigger since the Fourth of July lands on a Friday, I think we’ll see a lot of people coming to town for the weekend.”

Watkins said the Freedom Celebration was created by Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot as a way to thank veterans for their service to the country. He added that the Fourth of July provides a unique opportunity for community members to come together.

“There’s really not too many times when we can all set aside our differences and come together under one large umbrella,” Watkins said. “We’re all American and we can all join together celebrating that. When so many different people come together, I think it’s something that’s really special.”

The Freedom Celebration includes an outdoor banquet and concert along the banks of the Snake River near the Shilo Inn, 780 Lindsay Blvd. The banquet starts at 7 p.m. and the concert, featuring a symphony playing a one-hour program of patriotic music, follows at 9 p.m. . Tickets for the banquet are $29 for adults and $16 for children and can be purchased at the Melaleuca store, 330 N. Capital Ave.

For information or to see a schedule of events, visit tinyurl.com/IFJuly4th.

McCullough said she expects up to 50,000 people at the greenbelt during the day’s events.

“It will be a great day for people to get out and celebrate,” McCullough said. “There are plenty of events throughout the day and I think anyone who comes out to the day’s events is going to have a good time and be glad they came.”

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