Kent bracing for Fourth of July Splash on Sunday

Lake Meridian residents simply call Brad Omon the "pyro." Omon works as a pyrotechnician for Olympia-based Fireworks Entertainment Inc., the company that will produce the 10 p.m. show for Sunday's 12th-annual Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian Park.

Brian Dye of Kent gets a little help staying engaged from his cousin

Brian Dye of Kent gets a little help staying engaged from his cousin

Lake Meridian residents simply call Brad Omon the “pyro.”

Omon works as a pyrotechnician for Olympia-based Fireworks Entertainment Inc., the company that will produce the 10 p.m. show for Sunday’s 12th-annual Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian Park.

“We always try to do something a little different and try to outdo ourselves on the finale to make it bigger and better,” Omon said.

Omon is part of a six-member fireworks crew that will spend three days setting up for the 18-minute show. The fireworks fire electronically, but they are manually controlled from a firing board.

“It takes about three to five days at the shop to create the firing order,” Omon said, describing the carefully orchestrated lineup of explosives.

The fireworks are presented by the Lake Meridian Community Association, the city of Kent and Reber Ranch.

And while the show will take roughly about an hour before it’s completely detonated, just making it happen this year took a bit more time, as organizers lined up local donations to fund it.

Residents around the lake raised about $10,000 and the city once again contributed $6,000 for the show, said Michelle McDowell, president of the Lake Meridian Community Association.

“We lost a major sponsor, but in light of that the (lake) residents really stepped up,” McDowell said. “They’ve been working hard to get the money.”

Dollarwise, a check-cashing and loan store based in Federal Way, closed. The company had donated to the fireworks show over the last eight years, including $4,000 last year.

“But with all of the donations we’ll have the same results,” McDowell said. “We’ll be fine. We’re committed to a $16,000 show.”

Residents who donated at least $50 to help fund the fireworks received a “2010 Fireworks” flag to display on their property.

“A lot of people think businesses or the city pays for the fireworks but the residents pay for a lot of it,” McDowell said.

Tom and Julie Oresman have lived at Lake Meridian for 15 years and have donated every year to help fund the fireworks. They kicked in even more this year when they heard about the loss of a major sponsor.

“The fireworks are important for the lake and a community event,” Tom Oresman said. “It’s probably in the south end one of the best shows there is. For the local community, it’s a pretty remarkable show.”

McDowell, who has lived at Lake Meridian for 16 years, said the Fourth of July at the lake always is a fun event.

“It’s a real family experience,” she said. “We make sure it’s family friendly.”

Events all day long

It may end with a bang, but Kent’s Fourth of July Splash has fun activities all day long.

The city of Kent offers a variety of activities and games for children as well as an entertainment stage from noon to 9:30 p.m.

The pie and watermelon eating contests for children and adults has become one of the featured events. The eating contest goes from 3-4 p.m.

A juggling school has been added this year from noon to 5 p.m. where anyone can try to learn how to juggle.

Groups lined up to perform on the main stage include Sub-motive, a hard-hitting blues and rock band from Kent, and The Beatniks, a Seattle band that plays music from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

The Lake Meridian Community Association runs non-motorized boat races that start at 7 p.m. Anyone with a canoe, paddle boat or even a paddle board can enter the contest to compete for ribbons.

The lake residents conduct a boat parade at about 8:30 p.m. Residents decorate their boats with a Fourth of July theme or any other theme they want.

“We’ve done a (Seattle) Thunderbirds theme the past few years on our boat,” McDowell said.

City officials sliced about $7,500 from the Fourth of July Splash entertainment and events budget as part of a round of city cutbacks last fall, said Ronda Billerbeck, Kent Parks cultural program manager.

But parks officials replaced that $7,500 when the city received a grant from 4Culture, a King County cultural services agency, through the federal economic-stimulus package.

For more information, go to www.ci.kent.wa.us and search for 4th of July Splash.

Catch a shuttle to Lake Meridian

The Fourth of July Splash attracts thousands of people, so free off-site parking and shuttle service is offered to Lake Meridian Park approximately every 20 minutes July 4 from lots at Kent Fire Station No. 75, 15635 S.E. 272nd St.; Kentwood High School, 25800 164th Ave. S.E.; and Meridian Elementary School, 25621 140th Ave. S.E.

Kent Police will escort the shuttle buses through traffic back to the parking lots after the fireworks show. The city of Kent rents school buses to provide the shuttle service.

Fourth of July Splash entertainment:

Noon-12:30 p.m. – Nza East Hill Elementary School Mallet Ensemble, marimba music

12:45-1:15 p.m. – Charlie Brown, Splash emcee and family entertainer

1:30-2 p.m. – Sealth, local grunge band

2:15-2:45 p.m. – Zhane Juniea, solo vocalist and dancers, inspirational music

3-4 p.m. – Pie and watermelon eating contests, for children and adults

4:15-4:45 p.m. – Kaymak Musik, music that makes you dance

5-5:30 p.m. – Sky Bridge, classic rock ‘n’ roll

5:45-6:15 p.m. – Spotlight Dance, dancers ages 4-18 performing a variety of works

6:30-7:30 p.m. – Sub-Motive, hometown heroes playing hard hitting blues and rock

8-9:30 p.m. – The Beatniks, music of the 1960s, 70s and 80s

10 p.m. – Fireworks show


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