By Kyle Pfannenstiel, Post Register
July 4 celebrations return amid slowing pandemic, rising heat and wildfire risk
For the first time in two years, Fourth of July festivities are back in Idaho Falls.
The celebrations come at an odd crossroads of rejoice and risk.
On the one hand, coronavirus infections and restrictions have dropped dramatically as most Idaho adults have been at least partially vaccinated. But on the other hand, across the Pacific Northwest, sweltering temperatures make outdoor activities more strenuous and dry ground elevates wildfire risk.
Event organizers say eastern Idahoans are prepared to show up in droves. For the Independence Day parade Saturday morning, police expect 100,000 attendees across three miles of closed off streets.
“Freedom is always a big thing. With the loss of freedoms and and mobility that we saw over the last year due to COVID-19, I think people are really excited to be able to express themselves and they’re really grateful for the freedoms that this wonderful country offers us,” said Chip Schwarze, CEO of the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, which organized the parade. He said attendees will likely be a mix of local and regional residents, along with people visiting nearby attractions.
Saturday will kick off with the parade at 9 a.m., featuring 110 entries and Gov. Brad Little as grand marshal. Schwarze said all together, the floats span a mile. The parade runs from near Idaho Falls High School to Fourth Street to South Boulevard to Tautphaus Park. City officials and religious volunteers from 39 faith-based organizations dressed in bright T-shirts will collect donated money, canned goods and non-perishable food items for local food pantries.
Later in the day, Riverfest — a family friendly event with activities for children, food vendors and music performers near Snake River landing — will commence. Concerts start at 11:30 a.m. and kids’ activities start at noon. Events end around 9 p.m.
At 10 p.m., the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration fireworks show begins. The show, which Melaleuca says is “the largest Independence Day fireworks show west of the Mississippi River,” will last for 31 minutes. It is synchronized with music that will be aired on KLCE Classy 97.3 FM.
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