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Columbia County in full patriotic splendor headed into weekend prior to Independence Day holiday

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Marisa Brady, right, a former St. Helens resident, checks out at a fireworks stand while being helped by Noelle Freshner, the St. Helens School District band director. Brady, who now lives in California and was visiting her parents in St. Helens for the weekend, said she was excited to light off fireworks with her children. The fireworks sales are an annual fundraiser for the band program.
Myriad events are planned in Columbia County leading up to the Fourth of July holiday on Tuesday, including a five-night concert series and a slew of family-friendly activities. Warm, dry weather is forecasted, so prepare for summer fun.

Concert series in St. Helens

The organizers of the annual 13 Nights on the River concert series have planned a five-night concert series called "St. Helapalooza," which will feature performances by nine different bands over multiple days. The first night of events was scheduled to kick off Thursday, June 29, with an evening performance by cover bands Workin' for the Weekend and REO Speedwagon Tribute.

Friday through Tuesday, June 29 to July 3, concerts at Columbia View Park will start at 6:30 p.m. A wide range of bands will perform over the weekend, including: Radical Revolution on Friday; Shoot to Thrill and the Jackalope Saints on Saturday; Aerosmith Rocks and The Seekers PDX on Sunday; and the Reflex on Monday.

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CITY OF ST. HELENS - Two people deocorate a trashcan during the St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission's annual compeition held every Fourth of July. Prize money is handed out to the top three picks in different catergories, and every painted can is used in city parks throughout St. Helens.The concerts are free to attend and areas to purchase drinks and food will be set up throughout the weekend. A tailgating, parking and overnight camping area will also be set up on the city's waterfront property. Tickets for overnight camping are $20. A daily camper pass is $10. A daily parking pass is $5. Tickets can be purchased at www.destination-experiences.ticketleap.com/st-helapalooza.

St. Helens events on July 4

On Tuesday, July 4, events including face-painting, a rock climbing wall and balloon-twisting will be held in Columbia View Park and the areas surrounding City Hall. The St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission will host its annual trashcan painting competition from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Public judging runs until 4:30 p.m. Nonprofit groups like the St. Helens Elks Lodge and Veterans Bunker program will work with students from the St. Helens Youth Council to sell food and drinks starting at 11 a.m.A bell-0ringing ceremony by the American Legion Post 42 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1440 on the Columbia County Courthouse steps will take place at 2 p.m., followed by a flag-raising ceremony at 4 p.m. A live musical performance by popular cover band Hit Machine will also be held from 7 to 10 p.m. A fireworks display will be held at 10 p.m.

Food vendors and nonprofit groups will also be selling food throughout the day. Parking on July 4 will be $20 on the waterfront property.

Pancake breakfast in Scappoose

Make your breakfast count on the Fourth of July. The Scappoose Fire District will host a pancake breakfast from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Tuesday, July 4, to benefit the Scappoose Volunteer Firefighter Association's scholarship fund. Breakfast is served with a donation.

The annual breakfast is served each year on Independence Day at the fire district's office at 52751 Columbia River Highway for the benefit of the VFA.

Firework sales as school program fundraiser

Prior to the holiday, parents and volunteers with the St. Helens Band Program will be hosting a fireworks sale fundraiser. Dozens of parents and students will take turns running a fireworks fundraiser sale from now until July 4. Volunteers from the St. Helens Band Program will be manning a TNT Fireworks booth in the parking lot of Walmart in St. Helens, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The booth will be be open on July 4, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., while supplies last. St. Helens Band Director Noelle Freshner said they ran out of fireworks last year. She encourages people to shop early to get the best assortment and variety. The fireworks fundraiser is in its seventh year, Freshner added, and said the proceeds help pay for expenses that students involved in the music program might incur. Typically, the group raises $2,000 to $4,000 from the sales. Those profits help pay for a variety of goods or services, from middle school band festival entry fees to expenses for the high school marching band program. Each year, during the fundraiser, students volunteer to wave flags and hold up signs along Highway 30 to promote the sales, while parents and other volunteers man the sales booth. Freshner said she especially enjoys the fundraiser because it gives her a chance to sit down and visit with parents while helping the band.

Rainier Days in the Park

Just because the Fourth of July is over, doesn't mean the fun ends. July 7-9 marks the return of Rainier Days in the Park. The city's annual summertime festival features a fireworks show, free live music, food, vendors, a carnival and parade at Rainier City Park on West A Street.

This year's fest includes a pro wrestling match and performance from Giants in the Trees, the latest music project from Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

The festival kicks off at noon Friday, July 11, with food booths, vendors, a carnival and interactive exhibits, with live music throughout the day.

At 7 p.m., catch professional wrestling matches, courtesy of Pacific Northwest Pro Wrestling, followed by a set from the Dave Koenig Blues Brothers band at 9 p.m.

Saturday features a parade at 10 a.m., with booths and activities in the park all day starting at 11 a.m. Live music starts at 11 a.m. with No Excuses, followed by Brynion at 1:30 p.m., Skamokawa Swamp Opera at 4 p.m., Syco Billy String Band at 6:30 p.m. and headliners Giants in the Trees at 9 p.m..

The Rainier Days signature fireworks display will sound off at 10 p.m. with an encore set from Giants in the Trees at 10:30 p.m.

The park closes at 11 p.m.

On Sunday, a church service will be offered with Sanctus Real, a Christian pop rock band set to perform later that afternoon. Sanctus Real will perform at 4:30 p.m. The park closes at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Music continues throughout the day Sunday with a closeout performance by Sanctus Real at 4:30 p.m.

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