After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the skies over Quartermaster Harbor will once again light up with a big-ticket, professional fireworks display, starting just after dusk, to celebrate the Fourth of July.
As in recent years past, the display will be funded by anonymous donors. However, Rich Vaughan, the regional manager and show producer of Pyro Spectaculars, the fireworks company that will present the event, spoke to The Beachcomber in a phone interview.
Vaughn said this year’s fireworks show, launched from a barge in the center of the Harbor, would be even more spectacular than his company’s show in 2019, the last time Vashon had a July Fourth fireworks event.
“It should be one of the premiere fireworks shows [in the Northwest],” he said, adding that his company produces fireworks shows for both the Space Needle and the Mariners.
The show, he said, will be a tribute to Pyro Spectaculars’ late show designer and head pyro technician, Greg Farnsworth, who died suddenly of a heart condition in October of 2019.
Farnworth’s crew and widow, said Vaughan, are very excited for the Vashon show to return in a way that honors his artistry and contributions to his field.
According to Vaughan, Farnsworth had ordered the shells to be used in Vashon’s 2020 show in September of 2019, from a Michigan company, just one month before his death.
Vashon’s 2020 show, of course, was canceled due to the pandemic, but Vaughan said he had called the Michigan company were Farnsworth had sourced the 2019 fireworks — and had been delighted to find out they were still available for this year’s show.
Vaughan said his industry has been severely disrupted by widespread shortages of rental trucks. Still, he said, transportation of the fireworks was now arranged, and soon, a crew would arrive on Vashon to begin to set up the show.
Islanders who wish to see the show can do so from a number of different vantage points, including Dockton Park and Jensen Pt. There is no public shoreline access on Quartermaster Harbor, nor at the Quartermaster Marina.
Consumer fireworks now prohibited in unincorporated King County
Also this year, new rules will be in place on Vashon for July Fourth traditions. Unincorporated areas won’t see fireworks stands, and residents aren’t allowed to light fireworks on their property or elsewhere.
Instead, the county is encouraging residents to find ways to celebrate the Fourth of July that don’t endanger residents, pets or property.
“We acknowledge and respect that there is a longstanding tradition of individuals and families celebrating our nation’s independence with fireworks – that’s true for our family too,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “But in a county of 2.3 million people, with many of our cities already having prohibited fireworks, doing the same in unincorporated King County is a necessary step to ensure safety and prevent tragedies.”
County leaders had discussed a consumer fireworks ban in unincorporated areas for years. There have been several wildfires in rural parts of the county during recent dry summers, and several fireworks-related injuries and other incidents in urban areas — including a 2019 house fire in White Center in which a person died.
In terms of enforcement, King County is emphasizing community education about the new rules and is deferring issuing citations for a year. But that doesn’t mean islanders will be able to light fireworks without repercussions.
Starting June 14, residents of unincorporated King County areas have been able to report violators to the King County Permitting Division by visiting king county.gov/reportfireworks, or by calling 206-848-0800. King County will issue a warning to violators and include them in its records. If the behavior continues, these violators will likely be the first to eventually receive citations.
Caring for Pets
Many pets are distressed and disoriented by fireworks. To report a lost or found pet, visit tinyurl.com/28nud3sn to make a report to Vashon Island Pet Protectors. Islanders can also call VIPP at 206-389-1085 or email email@example.com.
Liquid Light Returns to Open Space on July 3
After a glowing 2021 premiere, Open Space for Arts & Community and Illumi-lux production company are teaming up to bring back Liquid Light, a laser light show that will take place at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3, outdoors at Open Space for Arts & Community.
Created by combining curated music and laser-generated imagery, Liquid Light is not a traditional laser light show, said organizers.
Presented by lighting artist David Marine, Liquid Light synthesizes light and music by creating glowing, abstract, real-time images with fully synchronized sound. Projected on the Douglas firs at Open Space, the ever-changing shapes of light and color will pulse and dance to the music.
“When hundreds of islanders showed up last year on July Fourth, we knew we had something special on our hands,” said producer David Godsey. “It was a fun and funky atmosphere — the Great Lawn was awash in blankets, lawn chairs, families, and pods of dancers.”
Godsey said that working with Marine on the new show has already been eye-opening and that he looks forward to welcoming the community to the event.
“The colors and dimensions David has captured have been amazing to experience,” he said.
Liquid Light will begin at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 3, when gates open at Open Space. There will be music playing that is suitable for hanging out, visiting, and early-bird dancers, Godsey said. The full laser show will begin at 9:30 p.m. Guests are invited to bring food and non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy with the show.
Open Space asks attendees to leave pets at home but bring their own favorite folding chair, comfy pillows and blankets. Those with lawn chairs will be seated further back so that folks on blankets can see.
Carpooling is recommended as parking may be limited. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Admission is by donation, but attendees are requested to RSVP at openspacevashon.org, to help the organizers prepare for crowd size.