July 6, 2019 — The 2019 Florence Area Chamber of Commerce Independence Day Fireworks display drew thousands of spectators to the Port of Siuslaw for the dynamic ending of a sunny day that had earlier featured pie and watermelon eating contests as well as events around town.
Young and old alike participated in the friendly contests, which this year were sponsored by Florence Habitat for Humanity and the chamber.
The crowd started arriving at the large lawn by the marina boardwalk around noon and, by sunset, hundreds had staked out a small patch of ground from which to watch the highlight of the day, which came with the fireworks display at 10 p.m.
There was some concern earlier this year that Florence would not have a fireworks show this year due to logistical concerns; there didn’t appear to be a way to launch the fireworks from the river, as the barge that had served as a launching pad for the pyrotechnics had been sold and moved to another location.
Fortunately, Port of Siuslaw Manager David Huntington and Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan were able to come up with a plan to legally stage the display with minimal problems.
The move to the east end of the camping area of the port was accomplished in a relatively short time and the new staging area provided the thousands in attendance with a new and interesting perspective to watch the half-hour display.
“It seems everything went great,” Hannigan said. “I was watching from the deck at ICM and it was beautiful. With the boats and the lights reflecting off of the water, it was just spectacular!”
The shift from staging the fireworks show from the Siuslaw River to dry land presented some challenges for the staff at the port, the most notable being the relocation of a number of RV campers from the highly desired spots along the river, to a less appealing space in the port parking lot to accommodate the launching area for the fireworks.
“I think for the most part it went really, really well. It’s the first time for me being involved with the fireworks at the port and we learned a little bit. If we do decide to do this next year, we definitely will do a little adjustment to the staffing,” Huntington said. “We did run into a little problem with people wanting to go back and see the pyrotechnics as they were loading them, so we brought in extra staff to help keep people out of that area, and that is something that we will remember in the future.”
One of the major challenges to the last-minute change in venue required contacting campers that had reservations for the holiday weekend and asking them to accept a shift to a less desirable location that was being created out of the Port parking lot.
“Annie is our campground lead and she went above and beyond to work with the campers we had to move. She really is the one who made this happen,” Huntington said. “I am very grateful to the people that worked with us to move out of those spots, and it seemed to work OK for everybody.”
The move to the port was agreeable to the public, as there appeared to be more attendees than in recent years.
“I think there were more people here than I’ve ever seen down here at the port. It was a wonderful evening; we had no major issues here and overall it went well,” Huntington said. “No decision has been made for next year, but I will get with Bettina and we will put our heads together and I am hoping that there is a possibility that it will happen here again next year.”