Tigard’s Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration

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Tigard's Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration.
Fireworks from 2017 Old-Fashioned 4th of July Celebration. Photo courtesy of Phil Pasteris.

By  Reid Iford, Tigard Life

It’s time once again for fireworks to light up the sky at Tigard High School as the city celebrates its 32nd annual Tigard Old-Fashioned Fourth of July.

There are a lot of activities leading up to the fireworks show. Families come early to visit with friends, drop by the photo booth, get decorated by face painters, or buy snacks if they didn’t bring their own picnic lunch. A highlight every year is an hour-long performance by the Tualatin Valley Community Band. The Tigard Police and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue are on hand every year, and for many kids getting to meet their heroes and look at police cars, motorcycles and fire trucks is almost as much fun as the fireworks.

Ron Royce.
Ron Royce.

“Without the cooperation of the Tigard-Tualatin School District, Tigard Police Department, and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue I don’t think we could have had so many years of success,” explains Ron Royse, one of the event founders and master of ceremonies of all the celebrations right from the start.

“We’ve been doing this for 32 years,” says Ron, who owns Tigard Music, “so now I have families who have families that are coming. What I mean is, young couples who brought their children here three decades ago are now grandparents, and their children are bringing their own children here. This really is a part of Tigard’s history, a part of our community social structure. It’s become a Tigard family tradition.

“It’s on school grounds, so that means there is no smoking, no personal fireworks, and no alcohol,” says Ron. “People come here because it’s a fun family event, and they tell me they feel safe. Plus, all the entertainment is geared toward the family. This is why it is so successful. Thousands of people come to the high school, and thousands more watch from Cook Park and other vantage points around the city.”

Tualatin Valley Community Band performing at last year's Old-fashioned 4th of July Celebration.
Tualatin Valley Community Band performing at last year’s Old-fashioned 4th of July Celebration. Photo courtesy of Phil Pasteris.

The fireworks show itself runs for about 25 minutes, and Ron says they work hard to make sure it is well-timed and fun to watch. The Tigard celebration is old-fashioned in more ways than one. Whereas almost all fireworks shows are now computer operated, Tigard still sets off all its fireworks by hand. Only rarely appearing in the spotlight or getting any attention, John Chamberlain – owner of Arrow Mechanical in Tualatin – and his family and friends are the ones responsible for getting the fireworks off the ground.

“I can’t say enough about John and how much he contributes,” says Ron. “Without John there would be no Tigard Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration. The expense of bringing in pyrotechnic professionals would double the cost. There’s no way we could do that. While everyone else is enjoying the show, and I’m up there emceeing the event, John and his family are in the trenches making it all happen.”

The celebration officially kicks off at 6 p.m., and Ron cautions that construction at the high school will mean less available parking than in years past. He encourages people to come early, or to consider parking farther away.

“We receive our funding from the City of Tigard,” explains Ron. “This is a true city event. It is put on by volunteers for the people of Tigard, paid for by the city, and involves the city, schools, and police and fire departments.

“The Old-Fashioned Fourth of July provides a lot of bang for the buck,” says Ron with a laugh. “We’re a nonprofit organization, and no one is paid. I’ve been trying to pay our accountant Mike Marr for the last 20 years. I’ve even offered to take him out to lunch, and he flatly refuses. He says this is something he does for the community. We all feel that way. I’ve always felt this is a city event. It’s something we coordinate to serve the people of Tigard.”

Old Fashioned 4th Of July Celebration

Location: Tigard High School Football Field
Date: Wednesday, July 4, 2018

All activity times are approximate:
6 p.m. Official gates open (people will start showing up as early as 3 pm)
7:00 p.m. Kid games, face painting, balloon tying, photo booth
8:00 p.m. Tualatin Valley Community Band performs
8:15 p.m. Life Flight helicopter arrives
9:30 p.m.  Fireworks 20-30 minute show. (Start time varies due to darkness)

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