It’s going to be a blast!

City officials watch river, weather in advance of July 4 fireworks show

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

The finale is expected to be bigger. There’s a chance for a flyover by a military jet or helicopters. Most, if not all, the fireworks display permits are in hand.

Now, all Stillwater needs is Mother Nature’s cooperation so the annual Fourth of July fireworks show over the St. Croix River blasts off as planned.

"Every effort has been made to make this the best show ever," said City Administrator Larry Hansen.

Hansen briefed the Stillwater City Council at its meeting Tuesday on preparations for the fireworks show. The city took over the Fourth of July fireworks celebration after the council canceled Lumberjack Days and cut its ties with St. Croix Events, the company that in past years produced the festival and Fourth of July fireworks show.

Hansen said he met with representatives from the Police and Public Works departments to continue planning for the fireworks show. He added that current costs for the show are $33,500, above the city’s original $30,000 budget. But he notes that the city’s share of the costs is about $23,500.

Among the cost savings Hansen cited was $3,000 for sound system rental, well below an initial estimate of $20,000.

Hansen said the fireworks show will again be simulcast on KLBB-AM 1220.

"People at their house parties or too far from speakers, they can bring their boom boxes and listen," he said.

A possible addition to the show is an 8 p.m. flyover by an F-16 or Army Blackhawk helicopters, "if we get them," Hansen said. He added that the city has applied to the military for a flyover, but has not heard if the permit will be granted.

If the military grants the flyover permit, Hansen urges spectators to be in place at 8 p.m. July 4 to see it.

"If you want to see it, you need to be there," he said.

The one wild card in the city’s Fourth of July show plans is the weather. If weather postpones the July 4 show, July 7 is the rain date, Hansen said.

The other concern is an expected rise in the St. Croix River following several days of storms that dumped heavy rain across the St. Croix Valley.

"The (National) weather service has predicted that the river will come up four feet," said Shawn Sanders, city engineer and public works director.

If that rise in the river occurs, Hansen said the problem is obvious.

"Our parks will likely be flooded," he said.

If that happens, Hansen said spectators would be moved into riverfront parking lots.

"Sitting in a parking lot in a lawn chair isn’t comfortable, but what are you going to do," he said.

Still, Hansen believes the city will produce a holiday fireworks show that spectators will enjoy.

"We’re really looking forward to it," he said.