|Thursday, Jul 19, 2007|
On July 4th, the park hosted the region's 45th annual Fourth of July celebration. Managed by the Vancouver National Historic Reserve Trust, the park's cooperating association, the event drew a reported 60,000 visitors, making it one of the largest Fourth of July celebrations occurring in a unit of the National Park System. The traditional festival-style event featured food and craft vendors, family activity areas, and an entertainment stage with over ten hours of live, family-oriented music, culminating in a 30 minute fireworks display billed as the "largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi." The event was held on lands managed by the NPS, US Army, State of Washington, and City of Vancouver within the boundaries of the Congressionally-established Vancouver National Historic Reserve. Lands managed by the NPS at the park are at the heart of the event, including the preferred viewing area for the main stage, fireworks display, and family activity areas. Throughout the day, more than 35 staff and park volunteers provided roving interpretation and special programs for visitors. Staff and volunteers involved in the park's annual Public Archaeology Field School also interpreted an active NPS archaeological dig for the public, and members of the US Army Reserve led traditional games including sack races and three legged races on the park's historic main parade ground. The event was managed under ICS with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) serving as the lead agency. A seven-officer US Park Police team from San Francisco provided additional law enforcement support, with officers from VPD and USPP teaming up and patrolling on foot throughout the event. Working with PWR law enforcement staff, the park also provided VPD officers with a letter of authorization giving them special police designation on NPS land. Fort Vancouver rangers Bill DeBerry, Kimm Fox-Middleton, and Greg Shine served as local NPS liaisons. The local NBC-TV affiliate (Portland television station KGW-TV) broadcast the event live from the park to residents of the Pacific Northwest. As evidence of the event staff working together to keep the safety and security of visitors and resources a top priority, incident command reported only a few minor incidents all day despite the record 94-degree heat.