Tigard’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration has been an annual event for almost a third of a century, and as they do every year, Tigard families soon will be making their way to Tigard High School to celebrate our nation’s birthday in a safe, fun, family-friendly environment.
Mom, dad and grandparents will be spreading out blankets and opening picnic baskets, accompanied by live music provided by the Tualatin Valley Community Band, while children swarm around police cars and motorcycles, a hook and ladder fire truck, and other emergency response vehicles. One of the big highlights will be a visit by the Life Flight helicopter – as long as it isn’t called away for an emergency. These are all real, working vehicles and crews, and while it is rare for them to leave, they are on duty.
There will be no alcohol, no smoking, no politicking, and no dangerous illegal fireworks: Just good wholesome family fun.
“That was always the intention, right from the beginning,” explains Ron Royse, owner of Tigard Music and one of the original event founders. “You can bring your family and not have to worry about anything, just have fun. We’ve maintained that ever since we began. This is year 32 for me. I was on the original committee when we started this. There were about 17 of us, and now it’s down to two, John Chamberlain and myself. John owns Arrow Mechanical heating and cooling in Tualatin. He is the pyrotechnician and handles it all, along with his crew, which includes some family members, all of whom have been doing this with him for years.”
Affordable food is available, for those who don’t want to bring their own. There is face painting, sack races, balloon tying, dancing, and other fun activities. Everything is free, other than food. The fun officially begins at 6 PM, but many people start showing up about 4 PM to stake out a choice spot for their blankets and lawn chairs. Games and other activities begin at 7 PM, Life Flight shows up between 8 and 8:30, and around 9:30 the fireworks begin. The show typically runs for about 20 to 30 minutes.
“Unlike most fireworks these days, which are fired off electronically using computers, ours are all hand fired the old-fashioned way,” says Ron. “They have punks and go along and light each one by hand. This really is an old-fashioned fireworks show in every imaginable way. One of the factors is that no matter how much you spend on fireworks, you typically double that to pay the pyrotechnicians. If we had to pay people to shoot the fireworks, we would be out of business.
“There are several key factors that make our show possible,” continues Ron. “If the City of Tigard didn’t support it, we wouldn’t be able to do it. If the Tigard-Tualatin School District wasn’t involved, we wouldn’t be able to do it. If the Tigard Police Department was charging us overtime we wouldn’t be able to do it, and also Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. These entities are an important part of this, and without them we wouldn’t exist.
“This year some new fireworks have been added, and it is going to be a pretty cool show,” says Ron. “Don’t miss out. It’s right here in Tigard, so grab the family, come on down and have some fun.”