GREAT FALLS — Independence Day is approaching, and there are several events taking place in Great Falls to commemorate and celebrate the day, including the Great Falls Municipal Band's "Summer Celebration," the annual Independence Day Parade, Eagle Falls Golf Course Community Party, a free downtown concert by LANCO, and the community fireworks display.
The Great Falls Municipal Band will present a free "Patriotic Summer Celebration" concert on Wednesday, June 30, in the Mansfield Convention Center. Doors open at 5:30 pm (concessions will be available), and pre-concert entertainment from Miss Linda's Studio Centre will begin at 5:45 pm. The concert will start at 7:00 pm and will feature patriotic selections and marches as well as a tribute to Bud Nicholls, who will soon be retiring after 41 years of leading the band. For more information, call Paul Burton at 406-899-9982.
On Sunday, July 4, downtown Great Falls will host the annual Independence Day parade. It will begin at 11 a.m., and the route runs from 1st Avenue South to 8th Street, north to Central Avenue, west to Park Drive, and ends at Margaret Park (north of the Civic Center). People are asked not to park vehicles along the parade route. For more information about the parade, call Lola Galloway at 406-750-4721 or Terry Bailey at 406-799-1091. The "4th Of July Hootenanny" with live music will begin immediately after the parade on Central Avenue between 3rd Street and 6th Street.
The Great Falls fireworks display is scheduled to begin at around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. The best viewing of the community fireworks display will be at Elk's-Riverside Park (River Drive North between Central Avenue and 6th Street). West Bank Park will be closed all day for the pyrotechnics crew to set up the display. Parking is available at Gibson Park. The Farmers Union Building parking lot, located on River Drive, will be open for handicap parking. Access to that parking lot will only be at Central Avenue West and River Drive.
Other firework viewing options include Eagle Falls Golf Course and Centene Stadium. The golf course is hosting a free Community Celebration starting at 5 pm with live music, firework viewing, face painting, and games, along with food and drink specials in the Taphouse. The Great Falls Voyagers are also in town, and the game begins at 7 pm with fireworks to follow.
Great Falls Fire Rescue is offering reminders about fireworks rules and safety. Primary rules and regulations include:
- Selling and discharging fireworks within city limits can only be done on July 2, 3, and 4 from 8:00 a.m. until midnight.
- Children 9 and younger must have a supervising adult within 10 feet, in order to control the application of flame or other means to discharge the firework.
- People should only discharge fireworks on private property (sidewalk leading to your residence and or driveway) and should always clean up any trash that is left behind from the discharging of fireworks.
GFFR also reminds people setting off fireworks to take the precautions to keep themselves and others safe. Always be aware of the risks of accidents, personal injury, and fires associated with the use of fireworks. “Our goal at Great Falls Fire Rescue is to educate residents about fire prevention and safety. Annually, fireworks start over 19,000 fires and send over 9,000 people to the Emergency Room each year. We hope that through proper education and use of fireworks, the citizens of Great Falls will not be part of these statistics. Know the rules, pay attention, and stay safe,” said Great Falls Fire Marshal Mike McIntosh in a news release.
More Fireworks Safety Tips:
- Read Directions – Read the cautionary labels and directions before discharging.
- Discharge Outdoors – Always use fireworks outside in a clear area, away from buildings and vehicles.
- Keep Fireworks away from Others - Never point or throw fireworks at another person or place any part of your body directly over a firework when lighting the fuse.
- One at a Time - Light fireworks one at a time, then move back to a safe distance quickly.
- Have Water Handy! – Have a bucket of water or a water hose nearby to prevent a possible fire. Always remember to douse discharged fireworks with water once they have completely burned before throwing the fireworks away to prevent a trash fire.
- Adult Supervision - A responsible adult should always closely supervise all fireworks activities. Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks.
- Clean it Up - Always clean up used fireworks when finished (make sure they are doused with water!).
- Prevent Injury – Fireworks should never be carried in a pocket or be shot off in metal or glass containers. Fireworks should be used on a solid, flat level surface. Never use altered fireworks. Not only are they dangerous, they can also be illegal.
- Sparklers - Sparklers can burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees. Parents may not realize that young children suffer injuries from sparklers.
- It Didn’t Light - If a firework does not work, leave it alone. Do not try to relight it. Pour water on it.
- Buying Fireworks – Purchase fireworks only from reliable outlets. Avoid buying fireworks that are packaged in brown paper or packaging. This is often a sign that the fireworks were made for professional displays and could pose a danger to consumers.
They also ask that you remember that not everyone loves fireworks - notably pets, who may become frightened by the sounds. Another group often referenced as being sensitive to the noise is military veterans and others who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Be a good neighbor and be sensitive to others when choosing to discharge them.
Great Falls Fire Rescue wants the community to enjoy the Independence Day holiday and remember that fireworks, even when used properly, can cause fires and accidents. Follow the law, have fun, and be safe! For more information about fireworks safety, call Great Falls Fire Rescue at 406-727-8070.