By BRIAN BULLOCK
Anybody who doesn't have a home, campsite or hotel reservation in Brookings-Harbor for the Fourth of July is probably out of luck.
Owners and operators of local hotels, campgrounds, vacation rentals and RV parks say their businesses are booked solid by people flocking to the area to enjoy the annual Independence Day celebration at the Port of Brookings Harbor.
Nearly all are here to see the fireworks show, sponsored by Chapter 757 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, at Sporthaven Beach beginning around 10 p.m. Thursday.
Beachfront RV Park is one of the most popular places from which to view the show. Even with 140 spaces available, it's one of the toughest tickets in town that week.
"This is where they do the fireworks and that's why we fill up so fast," said Pat Chesterman, park manager. "This year, I've been full, except for overflow, since about the middle of May."
Like fall salmon running up the Chetco River, many visitors return to the same campsites or hotel rooms year after year.
"I have a lot people every year ask for their favorite spots," Chesterman said.
Motels all over the area are busier this time of year anyway because of the summer season. But this year is a little busier according to most motel owners.
"Summer came a little early and came all at once," said Peter Spratt, owner of the Best Western Brookings Inn. "We went from a moderate spring feeling to bang! summer all at once."
Spratt said he thinks there are several reasons for the extra business. One is fallout from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"I read the stuff that says 50 percent of travelers are going to drive instead of fly this summer," Spratt explained. "I think a lot more people are on the road than in the air this year."
There are also more activities in the area succeeding Thursday's fireworks show.
A Little League District all-star girls softball tournament is scheduled in Brookings July 5-8. The annual Chili Cookoff is also set for July 4.
"As a result of that, there's a lot more pressure on the hotels," Spratt said.
Like most motels around town, Spratt said his 68-room facility receives reservations well before the Fourth of July. And like many businesses in Brookings, summer is when it makes most of its money for the entire year, Spratt said.
The Independence Day celebration is one of the highlights for local businesses, and the fireworks display is the reason for it.
This is the seventh consecutive year Chapter 757 of the Vietnam Veterans of America has sponsored the show, said group member Judith Anderson.
"The Elks Lodge used to sponsor the fireworks. A few years ago, they decided they couldn't do it any more so at one of our meetings, somebody said Why don't we do it,' " she explained.
Each year, the veterans' group raises thousands of dollars from donations to put on the show. Anderson said the fireworks alone cost $12,000. Along with many other expenses, the fundraising task can be difficult.
To raise money for the show, the Vietnam veterans group will be soliciting donations in front of local businesses. It will also be passing collection cans around during the show.
Donations to the fireworks fund can also be made at any branch of Chetco Federal Credit Union.
Mike Moran has been the chief pyrotechnician for about 20 years. He launches the fireworks from a cordoned off area at the south end of Sporthaven Beach. This year's show will last approximately 30 minutes.