portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

economic justice | neighborhood news

4th Of July Fireworks A Disappointment

1 or 2 minutes after the show started half of the very large crowd left out of frustration because hardly anyone could even see them.
My family and I showed up several hours early to find the perfect spot to set up. We went down to the eastside esplanade like usual. I had noticed an unusually large crowd gathered by the bourgie condos and marina near the south end of downtown. But I thought nothing of it as it is usually toward the center of downtown where everyone would have plenty of room to watch for free.

Then the fireworks started. They were down right in front of what turned out to be the blues(consumer) festival. This was at the south end of downtown all the way down by the I-5 bridge! For the majority of the crowds gathered there was a large bridge and/or trees in the way of the show. Half of the people just left pissed off. I wanted to too considering I had a better view from the roof of my house. But my family was really excited to see the fireworks. So we walked over to where they were. It was very crowded and the only places for people to watch from were the bushes or down in the dirt under the bridge. My family and I skidded down the dirt hill and stepped over trash, syringes, and human waste to see the fireworks for free.

I don't know why the decision was made to move the fireworks to the bourgie side of downtown or in front of the blues festival. But my hunch is that it was part of a strategy to boost business for the wealthier side of town and get more people to attend the festival and spend money there by making it unpleasant to watch from a free, comfortable vantage point. Just one more kick in the crotch, fuck you to the majority of us who can't afford that bullshit. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. People on the eastside have been doing a good job of keeping their money in their communities and now that we can watch parades and fireworks on the eastside we have virtually no need of downtown and all it overpriced garbage and gimmicks.

Needless to say, I won't be attending next year's festivities. Of course I'm sure no city officials give a shit because I have no cash to toss into their campaign coffers and the PBA does.

for those who may not know: 05.Jul.2005 19:32

SE Portlander

by PBA I mean Portland Business Alliance

Clean sweeps 05.Jul.2005 19:38


I too noticed that the rather unusual sight of clean and happy families camped out by the esplanade near the Hawthorne Bridge. I thought it odd because that's where the homeless usually camp out. I found out later that night that city officials (Clean & Safe or the PPB themselves) were doing sweeps to rush the "undesirables" out of what they may consider to be their stomping ground.

the blues festival sponsored the fireworks 05.Jul.2005 19:40

so they can put' em where they like.

I noticed tons of people setting off fireworks on the street in their own neighborhoods, and it seemed like way more than ever before. But I'm not 100% sure of that.

Driving through Portland last night it was really hitting me that fireworks sound like gunfire and that men and women in Iraq are beng shot or exploded and are dying every day.

"The bombs bursting in air" and the flag was still there.

I just couldn't join in the "celebration".

Good in Eugene 05.Jul.2005 20:03


In Eugene I got a good view of the Alton Baker fireworks from the south bank of the river; I took the Hilyard cutoff (the one that goes over the tracks right behind McDonalds) and then turned left (west) for about a hundred yards or so to find a good spot. I was surprised at how long the show went on and how many "false climaxes" (the fireworks getting rapid and intense and then dying off, but a few seconds later they start up again!) they used. They must have been listening to Beethoven's symphonies beforehand...

Regarding fireworks and pollution...does anybody have any facts on just how harmful to health and environment fireworks' emissions are? If so, anybody know of any less toxic "green fireworks" that have been made to combat the problem?

me too 05.Jul.2005 20:47


I thought the same thing about the fireworks. Walking through Newberg was downright freaky. Lots of smoke and way too many nutballs letting little ones light them off. My thoughts were with all the poor people that we have been bombng and how their lives must be a horrid TERROR due to our a**hole government.

I can;t imagine why folks would want to light them off this year at all. There is no independence for us with the PATRIOT act and stolen elections. What is there to celebrate this year?

A New More Multicultural Portland and Shock and Awe 05.Jul.2005 21:23


I went with my husband to the waterfront fireworks. It was delightful because it is one time when Portland gets together in a happy mood. Everyone was there. We saw an incredible variety of people: a grandmother with
Islamic headscarf, Vietnamese immigrants, Hatian immigrants, Guatemalan families with grandma in tow in traditional dress and it was great.......Portland has really changed for the better over the past 30 years.

People were in a good mood. We shared binoculars with people and moved over to give some little girls a better view. There was a feeling that this was a Public Good that we were all sharing and it gave one a sense that we are all in this together.....how rare that is in these days of privatization and individualism.

As the fireworks were going off, I became sad because they reminded me of the "Shock and Awe" over Baghdad......I kept visualizing the domed buildings and the palm trees and the bombs going off when the war started. I wondered: Why can't we just be paying for pretty fireworks instead of war. I became sad and we had to leave.....on the way out someone admired my antiwar button and I gave them one plus an anti war brochure.
With the sadness there was still something good about us all being there together and feeling a part of things.

yeah 05.Jul.2005 22:24

SE Portlander

I too felt a little weirdness with the similarity of some of the fireworks to bombs. The first time I saw a fireworks display after DayX I felt a little sick and a little anxiety as some of the fireworks looked like some of the footage of the bombs dropping on Baghdad. The ones that look and sound like concussion grenades give me a shellshock-like jolt because of all the protests I've been to where those have been thrown in my direction. I don't mind the fireworks that look like colorful balls in the sky but the others bother me.

I want to make crystal clear that I didn't go to the fireworks to appreciate U.S. imperialism. I went mainly to spend time with friends and family after being out of town for a while and the fireworks sounded fun. Unfortunately I ended up getting split up from most of them in the move to find a better spot.

Telling that the supposed celebration of the government's independence was sponsored by moneyed interests and that caused the otherwise public fireworks to be displayed optimally for them. So independence and celebration of such is for moneyed interests? Is this yet another tell-tale sign of the mentality of this system?

Kenton Park was a good time 06.Jul.2005 09:04

nopo neighbor

Kenton Park in nopo had a pretty decent view of the Ft. Vancouver fireworks, plus we go to set off our own in the park. This was an event that was pretty much organized and run by the local community; neighbors, churches, Kenton business district. There were very few cops, people took responsiblity for their own behavior and mess, and I did not see one bit of corporate sponsorship. I did not purchase or set off any fireworks myself, but it was great to get to meet different people in my own community. I saw the waterfront activities the day of the 4th from the MAX and it looked like a mess, glad I did not go.

The Hell with City Fireworks 06.Jul.2005 15:18

Arizona PBS Watcher

Nothing beats the great July 4th celebration on PBS from Washington DC. Great music & video.25th years strong. See below the Hell in Tempe Az:

No complacency here 06.Jul.2005 19:38

where is our anger?

I came downtown for the 4th of July fireworks. I held a big huge american flag over the edge of the hawthorne bridge that had a silhouette of an Abu Ghraib torture victim sewn on it. Lots of people didn't like it, but i don't give a fuck because the people that didn't like it were trying there hardest to IGNORE the fact that we STILL do this kind of stuff in the name of FREEDOM. One lady said something like "if you don't like it here why don't you go live somewhere else?". Why? So you and all of your sick friends can torture more people? You know I am trying my hardest to leave this country but our government is signing things left and right to make it harder for us to leave the country. It's like when i had to run away from home when i was 16. My mom yelled "get out of my house!" and when i went to leave she would say "where do you think you are going? If you leave i will call the police on you!" It's a loose-loose situation. You want me to force me to stay and let you tell me to leave every day because i stand up for what is right and shed light on things we do terribly wrong. Maybe everyone felt so depressed this year because there are terrifying things going on in the world today and we are behind most of them.

Good for You! 07.Jul.2005 08:11


Thanks for carrying that flag. It took courage. People need to be reminded that we started an illegal war and
that we do torture and detain people without giving them their rights. A lot of people want to ignore this and
you did the right thing. The complacency is what is damaging our country the most.

* 07.Jul.2005 09:27

nopo neighbor

I flew my Adbusters flag at my house and put up a poster of a flag made of bombs on my front door before I went to Kenton Park to see the fireworks. Some holidays are just schitzoid like that. I am a true blue atheist, but I get together with family and friends on christmas also. It does not mean that I support war, imperialism, capitalism, consumerism, jingoism, nor am I in support of sweatshop labor, the military, ruining the fish in the rivers with fireworks, or eating meat. Any community gathering, small or large, is a good time to talk to your neighbors and communication is a great tool for organizing. I am a fan of direct action also, but we might have to wait for labor day to be really visable;)

Your Violent Past 08.Jul.2005 10:17

Yankee DooDoo

Funny, I was blowing up stuff left and right, creating chaos, and enjoying one hell of an internal lightshow in my celebration in the violence that gave birth to this ridiculous country. Yes, I celebrated the victory of the American renegades against their European opppressors. 7/4 is a shining example of what the power of the people can accomplish.

F*** the Brits !!!

F*** King George !!!