While the crowds were a bit smaller than last year's Fourth of July celebration in Hermiston, organizers weren't complaining.
"Overall, it went well," said Ivan Anderholm, Hermiston Parks and Recreation Department director. "By the end of the night, the concrete pad was filled with people dancing."
Cabbage Hill, a local musical group consisting of guitarist Steve Hines, banjo player Matt Snook, fiddler Dan Emert, bass fiddle player Samuel Dickerson and mandolin player Ron Emmons, warmed up the crowd with their lively renditions of traditional bluegrass music. Kids danced on the floor between running to and from the games put on by the parks department. Two bouncy structures were set up in the games area as well, enticing children to come in and bounce, bounce, bounce.
Anderholm said his crew gave away 2,500 individual prizes to kids who tried their luck at the football toss, horseshoes, fishing pond and slimy frog toss.
Karin Kopp, Tracy Stone, Steve Payne and Manny Keller, also known as DesignBand, performed later in the evening, bringing their own brand of 1940s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s to current Top 40 hits to the stage. Anderholm said the band plays just about everything and is great to work with.
Paige Baunach, 8, came all the way from Idaho to visit her grandparents, Joe and Pearl Harn and to see the fireworks show. This was the first year Harn, a Hermiston city councilor, and his family have come to the fireworks show in Hermiston. He said he was expecting a great show.
By nightfall, families were spread out on their blankets or in lawn chairs, waiting for the fireworks to begin. Jerry Reeves said the best seat in the house is the grassy area where the kids games were set up. He and his family always sit there so they can see the fireworks show from the ground up.
Anderholm asked the fireworks folks to bring more "in the air" displays this year. And he got what he asked for.
Colorful displays lit up the sky with red, white, blue, green, purple, yellow and orange sparkles in patterns ranging from round to oval to star-bursts. The cost of the fireworks was about $2,000 more than last year, Anderholm said.
"It cost us $10,000," Anderholm said. "We didn't get more than we got last year, but the cost of fireworks went up astronomically."
By TAMMY MALGESINI
Thunder Over the River was a booming success Friday as people gathered at Boardman Marina Park to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Sgt. 1st Class Pete Fritsch and others from the Oregon National Guard's mobile events team had children and adults clamoring to scale a rock-climbing wall. He ratcheted up the excitement by encouraging friendly competitions between family members and friends.
Wearing a bright smile, 11-year-old Jorge Lopez rappelled down the wall after tasting sweet victory over his aunt, Rosario Zavala, 15.
Lopez had predicted he would lose before the duo ascended the 24-foot wall. However, Zavala conceded the win to her nephew.
"It was scary," she said.
As Sylvia Gonzalez, 11, slid down the rope and was ready to give up, Fritsch enlisted the aid of Daneila Aceves, 14, Isabel Gonzalez, 14, and Kalinn McKee, 15, to cheer Sylvia on.
"Who wants to hear a cheer for Sylvia?" he bellowed.
After the trio performed a cheer, Sylvia tackled the wall again.
Pauline Dalton and her boyfriend, Victor Yahr, settled in under the pavilion, hoping to win cash prizes playing bingo. However, after more than half a dozen games, Yahr wasn't having much luck.
"I have the Litter Dipper," he said as he gazed at the design on his card. "It doesn't help when you get the splatter effect."
Dalton enthusiastically suggested playing "four corners" for a Bingo.
"It's a fun game," she said.
Maddy Thomas and Donna Lee weren't as excited since they weren't able to yell out "bingo" after a couple of games.
"I got one once, but that's just about it," Thomas said.
As much fun as Dalton had playing bingo, she had even more fun earlier.
The 68-year-old Boardman woman was thrilled to participate in the Boardman Thunder parade.
"This is my first one," she said. "I always wanted to be in a parade."
Dalton sat on a hay bale on the back of a flatbed with others from the Boardman Tillicum Club.
With a brilliant display of red, white and blue, Columbia River Health Services received the "Most Patriotic" entry.
FUNtastic Kidz, sponsored by Boardman Park and Recreation, won the best kid's entry. They rode, they pedaled and they walked with as much excitement as they muster during regular activities Monday through Thursdays.
Crystal Weseman, assistant recreation director, said the group plays lots of games, does arts and crafts and has "water days" each week - including playing water dodge ball, playing on water slides or riding in paddle boats.
Although many of the parade entries tossed candy to the crowd, Mark Dobbins did it with flair.
Driving a convertible Volkswagen, Dobbins flung handfuls of candy high into the air as eager children dashed toward the raining candy.
Mildred Baker and Marge Shankle were just ahead of a contingent from the Boardman Senior Center. The two women were hawking raffle tickets for a quilt they crafted.
Shankle, secretary of the board, and Baker, a self-proclaimed "lifetime member" of the senior center, spend time twice a month at Quilt Talk.
"Sometimes we work on quilts and sometimes we just talk," Baker said.
The evening wound down with entertainment by Brad Rozema, followed by a street dance.
Then, as dusk settled in, the sound of thunder boomed as fireworks filled the sky.