ELLENSBURG - For those down in the dumps about being unable to light off a personal fireworks display Friday, the Daily Record's Fourth of July Community Celebration presented by Puget Sound Energy is here to lift those spirits.
"Our goal is to make it the best and most exciting event for this community," Daily Record Publisher Matt Davison said. "This is the event that we feel is truly for the locals."
For the second year the Daily Record is partnering with the city of Ellensburg for a community fireworks show at West Ellensburg Park. Last year there were an estimated 2,000 people in attendance.
"We expect more this year because of a three-day weekend and gas prices so high," Davison said. "We figure people will stay more local."
The event originally began as a partnership between parks and recreation department and Generations, a nonprofit organization.
Once fireworks were banned within Ellensburg city limits in 2004, the city took it upon itself to hold a fireworks show.
"We didn't know what we were getting ourselves into," Ellensburg Parks and Recreation Director Brad Case said. "Over the last three years it really evolved into a well-attended event and one of the recreation highlights for the summer."
The city of Ellensburg held a city-sponsored event for two years, but according to Davison, they just couldn't foot the bill alone any longer.
"We were at risk of losing the fireworks show entirely," Davison said. "We said we would cover the event."
Some of the event's activities include a professional mechanical bull sponsored by Ellensburg Rodeo to appeal to people of all ages.
Craft activities for kids will also be available as well as other attractions such as face painting and a collection of bouncy toys, including a two-story space shuttle slide.
All activities are free of charge and will last from 5:30-8 p.m.
Kids can also pick up a pair of 3-D glasses to enhance the vibrancy of the fireworks show at the Old Mill Country Store. The fireworks show begins at 10 p.m.
There will also be a variety of local food vendors at the event, including pizza, hot dogs, cotton candy and ice cream.
Musical entertainment will be provided by bands Road Fever, The North Pine String Band and the Dave Rawlinson Band.
"It's great to be out at the park and see families from Ellensburg … different generations out there enjoying the park and getting together," Case said. "It has the feel of a big backyard barbecue because everybody knows everyone out there."
A duck drop, sponsored by Generations, will also be held at the event. The drop will be at 8:30 p.m., involving a helicopter dropping about 3,000 numbered ducks onto the field with marked flags.
"There's a lot of ooh and aah factors having a helicopter dropping the ducks," Case said.
The duck closest to a flag wins one of over $15,000 worth of prizes.
In the past, Generations had a ladder truck drop the ducks into Carey Lake. Kittitas Sheriff's deputies would guide the ducks to a finish line on jet skis. With the construction of West Ellensburg Park, the event was moved to the softball fields.
A ladder truck will be on standby in case weather does not permit the helicopter to drop the ducks.
Tickets for the duck drop can be purchased for $5 each at West Ellensburg Park until 7 p.m. Proceeds go to a Veterans Memorial Wall and Memorial Park.
Parking for the event will be available at West Ellensburg Park in the grass lot off of South Railroad/Anderson Street (follow the signs).
Due to the challenges of parking restrictions, Davison encourages attendees to walk or ride bikes.