Fabulous Fourth: Tumwater and Lacey put on a proud show each year

For a capital city, Olympia doesn’t have much going on for the Fourth of July.

Yes, there are fireworks around. They happen on July 4 in Tumwater and on July 3 in Lacey, produced by South Sound Center.

And yes, there’s a parade and a festival — also in Tumwater.

In Olympia proper, the only event with Fourth of July in the title that a web search turned up was a most alternative one: a fundraiser for Cuba at Media Island. “Want to celebrate a real independence on the Fourth of July?” the website announcement reads.

The reason: Olympia throws its resources behind Lakefair, which includes its own parade and fireworks only 10 days later.

That leaves room for Tumwater and Lacey to shine a bit during the Fourth.

“This is our 23rd year doing the parade,” said Chuck Denney, Tumwater’s parks and recreation director, but the fireworks were added just a decade ago. “There’d always been a discussion of ‘why aren’t there fireworks in the capital city area on the Fourth of July?’ It’s a big production, and it’s expensive to do, so nobody ever did.”

It was the Tumwater Downtown Association that offered in 2001 to pay for fireworks, produced in cooperation with the city at the Tumwater Valley Golf Course.

This year’s display will be bigger than ever, Denney said. “It’s our 10th anniversary this year. We have a special grand finale this year that’s bigger and better than ever. It is still the biggest show around. We’re the only show around on that day.”

The July 3 fireworks in Lacey — sponsored by South Sound Center — were the first around. “This is the 45th year,” said Sandy Caron of Capital Development Co., which owns the mall.

She said the Chehalis Western Trail along the back of the mall property will be closed all day for the fireworks. Direct comments about the closure to Thurston County Parks Department.

Will the 45th year be the the Lacey display’s last? That’s what Denney has heard, unless different sponsors step up.

“I have no comment on that one,” Caron said. “I’m not allowed to comment on that rumor.”