Independence Day fireworks were blasting and sparkling all over Brookings and Harbor Thursday, keeping law enforcement patrolling streets – and throngs of admirers applauding them from perches barely above the high tide mark on Sporthaven Beach.
“They were pretty good; everyone was real pleased with them,” said VFW Post Commander Rick Bremer. The VFW collects donations throughout the year to hire a pyrotechnic firm to stage the show on the South Jetty every Fourth of July. “Cars were honking and people were applauding; it’s a good way to start the summer season.”
The fireworks show, put on by Entertainment Fireworks of Olympia, Wash., was to last 45 minutes to an hour, but the VFW, at the last minute, opted to go with larger – and much louder – fireworks. That cost more, thus shortening the show to 25 minutes, but Bremer said it was worth it.
“The bigger booms cost more,” he said. “I think a 25-minute show was fine.”
Most people didn’t even notice, it appeared, as celebratory pops and cracks could be heard throughout the town into the early morning hours. Last year’s fireworks display lasted 32 minutes, Bremer said.
It cost $15,000 to put on the show this year, which featured fireworks shot into the sky in multiple directions, others spun in circles from their racks, dazzling displays of red, white and blue – and chest-thumping booms over the ocean.
“They always restricted us to 4-pounders before,” Bremer said. “And you can go more fireworks with fewer booms. It didn’t sound like anyone left there unhappy.”
Brookings Police Lt. Donny Dotson said that agency’s workload was fairly typical for a “holiday where large amounts of alcohol are being consumed.”
“We were … busy,” he said with a laugh. “A few noise complaints, a few disputes.”
The holiday was busy, but mellow, as well, for the Sheriff’s Department.
“It wasn’t too bad,” said Sheriff John Bishop. “We kept busy, but nothing major. Just drunks here and there. It was quite pleasant. Even upriver it was pretty quiet.”
The only event of notice was that of a “highly intoxicated” 24-year-old man who jumped into the frigid water at Miller Bar up the South Bank of the Chetco River. He was quickly overcome by hypothermia to the point of unresponsiveness. An ambulance was summoned to transport him to the hospital; he reportedly recovered, Bishop said.
A U.S. Forest Service officer responded to that incident as he was merely five minutes from the scene.
Bishop, on the other hand, had almost everyone on his short-staffed office on duty, including three reserve officers, Det. Dave Gardiner and Lt. John Ward at the port festivities and two patrol deputies on the roads. One state trooper was assigned to the area for the evening, as well.
“That pretty much covered us all day and night,”Bishop said. “We covered a lot of ground. There were more people out than I’ve seen in awhile.”
Bremer said his crew is tired from all the fundraising they had to do to host the show, but after seeing it, they’re raring to go for next year.
“You’re thinking, ‘I’m sure glad this fireworks thing is over with; it’s a long arduous journey,’” he said. “But you can’t help but watch that show and say, “Let’s try it again.’ We’re going to do it again next year.”
He credited donations of as little as a dime from children and as large as corporate contributions for the annual event’s success.
“Without that help, we couldn’t have done it,” he said.
Typically, the VFW tries to raise $20,000 for the show, and most of it comes from soliciting donations outside local grocery stores.