Fourth of July returns with a bang


Photos by Mark Brennan, Zac Burtt and Kendall Porter

Florence, Mapleton and Dunes City celebrate a festive weekend

July 5, 2022 — The 2022 Florence Area Fourth of July Celebration took place over the weekend with a variety of activities and events ushering in the first full scale local observance of America’s independence in three years.

The red, white and blue were visible all weekend in the form of t-shirts, hats, costumes and flags, as thousands gathered in Florence to watch the firework displays at Siltcoos Lake, the Port of Siuslaw and over the Highway 126 bridge in Mapleton. Visitors also gathered in other locations to enjoy the sunny day and the wide array of free activities.

Before the evening’s fireworks there were hundreds of participants at smaller scale events like the Habitat for Humanity Bicycle Parade, the “Porch Parade” and a birthday party held for the Oregon Coast Military Museum (OCCM).

The weekend festivities began Saturday with the birthday celebration for the OCCM, which included a free cook-out for vets.

Later on the evening of July 2 was the “Sparkle on the Siltcoos,” a major firework show sponsored by Darling’s Marina and RV Resort.

Darling’s owners, Rich and Lori Olson, sponsor the fireworks show each year for the enjoyment of everyone on Siltcoos Lake.

“It was a fantastic show,” said Kristi Starnes. “I’m so glad that we were here for it.”

Some attendees believed this was the most spectacular show Darlings has put on yet.

“Wonderful,” said Dunes City resident Cindy Forsythe. “Best ever!”

Two days later, the festivities began on the Fourth of July with the Habitat for Humanity Youth Bike Parade, which started on Hemlock Street and made its way down Bay Street, with hundreds lining Bay Street to greet the colorfully dressed bikers, walkers and pets.

The parade was followed a few hours later by traditional pie and watermelon eating contests, with three different age groups with six winners and many paper towels.

The Fireworks display in Old Town, the main event of the evening, was presented around 10 p.m. and was sponsored jointly by the City of Florence, the Port of Siuslaw and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce.

The extensive display finished off the night drawing a crowd of thousands to watch the fireworks.

Live music warmed up the crowd as kids in plastic fireman hats, handed out by Siuslaw Fire and Rescue, weaved in between picnic blankets and lawn chairs.

In Mapleton, with approximately forty spectators gathered on the Highway 126 bridge over the Siuslaw River, and roughly three times that amount gathered on lawns around the bridge, the community’s fireworks show was well attended.

From the banks of the river on the north side of the bridge, residents had set up a “launching table” filled with fireworks of all shapes and sizes. 

The event was scheduled to start at 9:45 p.m., but by 9 p.m. the fireworks were in the air and the skies over the river were lit up with colors and shapes of many colors.

“I would like to apologize for starting sooner than we planned,” said the event’s organizers on the Mapleton Oregon Fireworks Facebook page. “The Firework Director got a little too antsy.”

Besides the major fireworks shows, small patriotic parties were held on streets, cul-de-sacs and neighborhoods from the coast to upriver and the summer season in the Siuslaw Valley started off with a bang.