Residents who showed up early Sunday to watch the July 3 fireworks at Rainier Vista Park in Lacey said the new location was much improved over the previous site at William A. Bush Park.
They had come to watch the Lacey Fireworks Spectacular and Freedom Concert, a longtime event that got its start at South Sound Shopping Center, followed by a move to Bush Park off Yelm Highway in 2012.
But after four years there, city officials decided it was too small a venue. Because of the size of the park and safety concerns, no one was allowed to view the fireworks in the actual park. That meant spectators were pushed to business parking lots in the area to watch the show — or they stood in Yelm Highway to watch it, another safety concern.
The concert started at 5 p.m. and the fireworks were set for 10 p.m., but people showed up long before then to stake out their spots.
Darlene Ward of Yelm and her boyfriend, Steve Garver, of Olympia, arrived at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. They had found a park bench and were listening to the Seattle Mariners game.
“We decided to make a day of it,” Ward said.
Ward, who has attended the event for years, said Rainier Vista Park made sense. She especially liked that the fireworks were being set up in a baseball field because the outfield and infield fencing between the fireworks and the spectators made her feel safer.
Gary Schuette, a representative of Entertainment Fireworks of Maytown — a company that has put on the Lacey fireworks show for about 25 years — said more room at Rainier Vista Park allows them to put on a show with greater variety.
He was limited to a 3-inch shell at Bush Park, but now can use a 4-inch shell at Rainier Vista.
Spectators at Bush Park saw only the “top third of the painting.” Now, they can see the entire mural, he said.
David Lyse of Lacey set up early Sunday, too. Although he didn’t show up early enough to get a parking spot for his RV next to the park, there was “still plenty of room for everybody.”