The Washington American Legion Post 218 fireworks show on the fourth of July did not go as well as Dave Gildehaus, event co-chair, had hoped.
The rain that evening put a damper on the annual display, he said.
Despite the weather, Mark Kimball, fireworks co-chair, said he was surprised by the size of the crowd that did stick around.
“We had a pretty nice crowd all things considered,” he said.
Kimball noted the area had about three rounds of rain that evening. While he couldn’t give an exact number, he estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people attended the event.
That’s down considerably from last year’s show which had about 4,000 people in attendance.
The fireworks were supposed to begin at 9:30 p.m., but the show delayed until a little before 10 p.m. due to rain.
Gildehaus said that was something J&M Displays, the fireworks company, should have scheduled for in advance.
The Legion had to call a company in Michigan to schedule the lights for the event, which was held at the Washington Fairgrounds.
The lights were scheduled to turn on at 10:15 p.m. The show was supposed to last 20 minutes.
Since the show didn’t start at 10 p.m. Gildehaus said the last five minutes would have been viewed with the lights on, so the company rushed through the show which lasted only about 10 minutes.
The Legion will be looking for another company to do the fireworks next year, Gildehaus said.
“There’s room for improvement,” he said.
Kimball agreed with Gildehaus, and noted the delay was caused by the company’s late setup.
“They didn’t start setting up soon enough,” he said.
Gildehaus explained the reason the Legion used this company again this year was because the cost of the show was half off due to past problems.
Last year, J&M Displays purchased new equipment after technical difficulties during the 2017 show. The battery on the firing remote failed to charge and toward the end of the show turned off completely.
Then the crew began noticing the grand finale rockets were not detonating.
This year, roughly 30 shells did not detonate. Kimball said the 30 shells were in one panel and it’s unclear why they didn’t explode.
Other than the rain, Kimball noted that the event wasn’t as orderly as he would have hoped. He will be taking over the event next year and suggested that some changes are in the works.
Kimball has several years of experience with fireworks shows.
“He knows just as much as anyone who sells fireworks,” Gildehaus said.
Kimball said the city of Washington has been a wonderful resource and partner to have to pull off this event.
“I just want to thank the audience for being patient,” Kimball said. “And a tip of the cap to the police department, fire department, parks department and the city of Washington as a whole for making sure this happened for our citizens.”