Cle Elum fireworks show

A crowd watches from Cle Elum as the annual fireworks light up the sky in 2016. Even though community events typically scheduled for the Fourth of July have been cancelled, there will be public aerial fireworks displays in Cle Elum and Ellensburg Saturday night. (Brian Myrick / Daily Record)

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People looking to celebrate the Fourth of July close to home this year will have options to see a spectacular display, whether they live in Upper or Lower County.

Fireworks shows will light up the sky above both Cle Elum and Ellensburg once the sun goes down on Saturday, although both celebrations will look markedly different than years past due to COVID-19. Both events will likely see families finding a spot to park and view the display, and many will have the chance to see it from their homes depending on how close to town they live.


Ellensburg’s display is set to begin at 10:15 p.m. Kittitas Valley Event Center Director Kady Porterfield said the fairgrounds are not being opened up to spectators as in years past.

“We want to eliminate any outside gathering in big groups,” she said. “The large north parking lot will have prime viewing and people are welcome to park there and watch from their vehicles or the back of their trucks.”

Porterfield said many residents will be able to see the display from their homes, eliminating the need to travel to the fairgrounds for the event.

“It’s a big enough show and it goes high enough,” she said. “Last year, a lot of people could see it from all over. We feel confident that people will be able to find a safe space where they can enjoy it with their family without being exposed to others.”

Although the event looks different than it has in past years, Porterfield said she feels like it’s important to still provide the community with an event to celebrate the holiday.

“The Patriot Night Under the Lights event was something that we put together last year, because we wanted to come together to celebrate the Fourth of July,” she said. “There wasn’t a lot to do. There’s some stuff in Upper County, but a lot of people didn’t want to travel. We really still wanted to have some kind of resemblance of our freedom and independence. After everything the community has been through the last few months, it was important to us to have just one small thing to look forward to that we could all enjoy safely.”


Despite the unfortunate reality that caused the cancellation of the 2020 Pioneer Days Parade, Upper County residents will still have fireworks to help them ring in the Fourth of July. Although the physical parade has been cancelled, Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce Tourism and Events Director Madison Ford said they have found ways to still highlight those who planned on participating in this year’s parade before it was cancelled.

Ford said the event will be celebrated in a virtual fashion, with a video compilation of clips submitted by participants.

“It’s kind of fun because it’s an opportunity for businesses, individuals and organizations who might not have been a part of the parade to get involved,” she said. “Send warm wishes out to the community and wish them a happy Independence Day.”

Ford said the video will be streamed on Inland Television on July 4, and will be uploaded to social media prior to the fireworks show, which starts just after dusk. As with the Ellensburg event, Ford said the Upper County display will be organized differently than in prior years. As with Lower County, people are encouraged to watch the show from their vehicles. Because of the location where the fireworks will be lit from, Ford said many residents in Cle Elum will be able to see the display from their houses as well.

For those who may travel to see the show or don’t expect to see it from their homes, Ford said the chamber is encouraging people to begin arriving around 9 p.m. Before the main show starts at dusk, Ford said smaller initial fireworks displays will be lit off to signify the beginning of the celebration.

Although the loss of the parade in 2020 is inevitably difficult for Upper County residents, Ford said she hopes that this year’s fireworks celebration will help to preserve the tradition of being able to gather as a community to celebrate such an important holiday.

“Independence Day is a close-held tradition in Cle Elum and part of its history,” she said. “Although we can’t experience it in its entirety, we’re thankful that we can do the video and come together to watch the fireworks.”


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