July 6, 2008

Winds Don’t Blow Out Tri-City Fireworks Shows

By Franny White, Tri-City Herald, Kennewick, Wash.

Jul. 5--AFTER DAYS OF SWELTERING HEAT -- swift breezes and cooler temperatures on Friday were a welcome relief for Fourth of July celebrants throughout the Tri-Cities.

Friday's weather peaked at 84 degrees just before 4 p.m. in Pasco, the National Weather Service said.

Temperatures across the Tri-Cities neared or hit triple digits just a few days ago.

Gusts reached 25 mph about 9 p.m., but the National Weather Service reported slower winds at 15 mph around 10 p.m., when professional fireworks shows started to light Tri-City skies.

Willie Anderson of Richland reveled in the windy weather as he flew a kite for his son, Jesse James Wolf Anderson, 5, at Columbia Park in Kennewick. They were enjoying an afternoon at the park in anticipation of the River of Fire fireworks show later that evening along the Columbia River.

Though lower temperatures were appreciated, Anderson said no weather could stop his family from their yearly tradition of celebrating Independence Day at the park.

"I've been here when it's raining and it's still been neat," Anderson said. "It's a great show."

Winds also helped share the mouth-watering smells of the many barbecue meals being grilled throughout the park's grounds. Megan Aalgaard and her fiance, John Kerr, both of Richland, were among those supplying the holiday hallmark smell of charcoal in the air.

"It's all-American," Kerr said proudly of the juicy array of burgers and hot dogs cooking before them. "It's America's birthday; you gotta enjoy yourself."

Kerr wasn't too worried about how the winds could affect the night's show, however.

"It'll just make 'em fly up higher," Kerr said confidently.

Not everyone was sure about the weather, however.

Pam Low and Gwen Wierman, both of Kennewick, wondered about the pending fireworks show as breezes forced them to hold tight onto their oversized shade umbrella. At least it wasn't cloudy and there would be a clear view, they said.

But the show did go on around 10 p.m. with fireworks shooting into the air at the same time at one point from Gesa Field in Pasco and at Columbia Park in Kennewick.

The previous days' heat, however, did dry up the region's fields to a point that made them susceptible to a handful of small brush fires that were quickly tamed throughout the Mid-Columbia.

Fireworks were the suspected cause of a brush fire in the 2500 block of Duportail Street around 3 p.m. Friday, said Capt. Mike Ermerick of the Richland Fire Department. The fire was less than an acre and no one was injured, nor were any buildings damaged.


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