Families from West Linn and surrounding areas gathered at Willamette Park for the annual Fourth of July celebration Tuesday night. Picnic blankets and folding chairs populated the baseball field and grassy hill backing 12th street.
The Fourth of July celebration was first put on in 2006 and the celebration includes music, food, drinks and lots of space for families and friends to relax and socialize. The evening ends in a spectacular showing of fireworks lasting upwards of 15 minutes.
The elaborate fireworks show is made possible by West Linn resident and volunteer extraordinaire, Alice Richmond, who fundraises for the event all year. Event crew member Eric Pettis and several other volunteers arrived at the park at 11 in the morning to prepare the fireworks. Pettis said that most of the crew know each other since they used to work for the military at some point. When asked what his favorite part was, he said, "It's probably the setting up and getting to create a little bit. We get to decide what color goes up at what time and how fast things will fire and it's a really good small town show that a lot of people go to."Fireworks weren't the only promised attraction at the park. The Nash Brothers played live music and several food and drink vendors set up stands. A short line persisted throughout the evening for kettle corn, which appeared to be a favorite of children and adults alike. The sweet smell of kettle corn and the loud joyful screams of young children created a carnival-like atmosphere. Several impromptu games of Frisbee and catch took place around the park.
Many families came to the park for the first time this year, and some were from cities other than West Linn. Joel came with his wife and three young children from Tualatin. He said, "I like how there aren't so many people here. It's pretty open and I feel really secure for our kids. It's not chaotic. It's very laid back." Several West Linn families said the celebration was nice because it brings the small town together and helps nurture the strong sense of community that West Linn enjoys.
Shortly after 9.50 p.m. the first fireworks were lit and a colorful flower blossomed in the sky above the smaller field. Families cheered and settled back to enjoy the rest of show with friends old and new.
Anisha Arcot is a reporting intern with the West Linn Tidings.