By JOSH NEWTON
If you’re looking for a few fireworks shows to help celebrate this Independence Day, there are several local options over the next week.
The second annual Red, White and Boom fireworks show, presented by the Cherokee Nation with assistance from the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and Tahlequah Main Street Association, will kick off Wednesday evening, July 3, south of Tahlequah on U.S. Highway 62, near the Cherokee Casino.
Festivities begin around 7 p.m. The Sharon Sharp Band will be performing at 7:30 p.m., and there will be family sack races and other free events available. The Kiwanis Club of Tahlequah will have concession drinks and food on-site.
Chamber Director David Moore said those activities will be held on the south side of U.S. 62, in an open field between Sequoyah Schools’ softball fields and the Cherokee Nation Casino. Assistants will be on hand to help with parking.
Despite previous plans to have inflatable games available for children, organizers said those are no longer part of the planned activities.
Fireworks will be launched from across the highway, at the county fairgrounds, at around 10 p.m. Those attending the show must park on the south side of U.S. 62. Organizers said parking will not be allowed on the north side of the highway, near the rodeo arena, due to safety and security issues. Attendees should bring lawn chairs or blankets.
The following day, Lake Tenkiller visitors can catch a glimpse of the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza, which begins at dusk on the southern end of the lake.
Organizers say the fireworks can best be viewed by boaters who are on the water, and from Tenkiller State Park or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds. According to online reports of this year’s event, fireworks will be shot from a higher elevation than in previous years, which could provide the chance of seeing fireworks from the central part of the lake, and perhaps as far north as Cookson Bend and Sixshooter.
Sequoyah State Park, tucked between Hulbert and Wagoner on Lake Fort Gibson, will host its fireworks celebration on Saturday, July 6. Attendees are urged to bring a lawn chair or blanket to enjoy the show, which will begin at dusk. Boaters on Lake Fort Gibson should also be able to catch a clear view of the event’s fireworks display.
Go Ye Village will host its Freedom Celebration on Monday, July 8, according to Tony Ward, director of marketing.
“We’ve got what we’re calling the all-American dinner – barbecue sandwiches and all the trimmings – at 6 p.m. in Richardson Hall,” said Ward.
“Reservations are required for that, and should be made by Friday, July 5, by calling (918) 456-4542.”
The Cherokee National Youth Choir and Go Ye Village Singers will present a patriotic program following the meal.
“Fireworks will begin at dusk on the property [of Go Ye Village], and that’s open to the public,” said Ward. “These are industrial-strength fireworks, so you’ll be able to see them from a lot of places.”
Fireworks safety urged
Firefighters throughout Cherokee County are urging residents to use their safety precautions when setting off fireworks this year.
Inside the city limits, fireworks can only be used in the summer on July 4 – no other days preceding or following the holiday.
Tahlequah Fire Department Assistant Chief Ted Kupsick said it appears the weather will be more cooperative this Independence Day than in recent summers, when a lack of rain and extreme temperatures left the area scorched.
“Have some water available in case you have a little grass fire,” said Kupsick. “A fire extinguisher will work, but water will probably work better. And don’t set off fireworks around other flammable materials.”
Children should always be supervised when using fireworks, Kupsick said. Directions on the package should always be followed, and fireworks should never be held in a person’s hand.