Fireworks will return this year to the city of Kent’s Fourth of July Splash at Lake Meridian Park for the first time since 2019.
The pandemic halted Splash in 2020 and 2021 and last year the city had music and activities but no fireworks show due to a lack of staff in the Kent Police Department and city Parks Department.
“Because we didn’t have fireworks last year, we decided to add a little extra to this year’s show for the community, as a one-time experience,” said city Parks director Julie Parascondola in an email. “We will have a professionally planned and produced fireworks show put on by (California-based) Pyro Spectaculars.”
The cost of the fireworks display is $35,000, with the city paying $24,000 and the Lake Meridian Community Association, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, contributing $11,000, Parascondola said.
“We are always grateful for their continued support and engagement in this event, being partners with us on Lake Meridian, as they also volunteer and assist in other areas of the event as well,” Parascondola said about the Lake Meridian Community Association.
With police and parks staffing up, city leaders decided they could bring back the fireworks show.
“This year, staffing has now stabilized and we are back to normal levels, so we feel comfortable adding the fireworks portion back into this event,” Parascondola said. “We will still have the normal challenges, with so many visitors coming to the park, but having the staffing in place to manage the crowd, helps mitigate our concerns.”
It takes a lot of people to oversee the Splash.
“This event brings thousands of visitors to Lake Meridian Park, which already struggles handling so many visitors at one time, so having proper staffing and law enforcement oversight is critical to keep both staff and the public safe – before, during and after the event itself,” Parascondola said.
She said the challenges include having safe and controlled access into the park, making sure the parking lot doesn’t get overrun or backlogged with cars trying to get in; that law enforcement is on site; that the fire department is on site to provide first aid and other response where needed; that surrounding neighborhood boundaries and impacts to street parking are managed; managing capacity of the public boat launch and crowding on the lake; creating emergency response plans; and making sure there are sufficient park amenities for public use, such as restrooms, parking, lawn space, etc.
Personal fireworks are not allowed at the event because of the city’s ban against fireworks without a permit, which are only given by the city for special displays, including the Fourth of July Splash.
Fourth of July Splash
• Lake Meridian Park, 14800 SE 272nd St.
(Tuesday, July 4)
• 5 p.m.
The free event begins with food trucks from Half Lion Brewing, Fire Tacos de Birria, Mocha Motion and Kettle Beach Concessions.
• 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Massy Ferguson, a Seattle-based quartet, proudly plants their boots on both sides of the country-rock divide, carving out their own brand of amplified Americana. The group irresistibly mixes bar-band twang with raw, guitar-driven bang.
• 8 to 9:30 p.m.
The I Corps Concert band, of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, consists of some of the Army’s most talented musicians and performs an entertaining program that is varied in style. The ensemble performs compositions of well-known composers from around the world, including classical, American favorites, popular music, rock, and jazz standards for all audiences to enjoy.
• 10 p.m. (or slightly after depending on darkness)
Fireworks begin, launched from a barge in the middle of Lake Meridian
• Gates to the park will open at 3 p.m. for drop off only, with no parking at the park. Free shuttle buses will run from 5 to 11:30 p.m. and take visitors to the park and back from parking lots at Kent Fire Station 75, 15635 SE 272nd St. and Kentwood High School, 25800 164th Ave. SE, in Covington. Park gates closed at midnight.