While July 4 pyrotechnics will return to The Dalles this year, with limited public gathering space available, three other Gorge fireworks shows —Bingen, Cascade Locks and Hood Rive — will not happen in 2020.
Organizers in all three communities called off the after-dark displays over concerns about large gatherings of people and the potential spread of coronavirus.
In addition, Bingen’s Huckleberry Festival has been cancelled, organizers announced.
Chairwoman Denise Stewart said the Huckleberry Festival committee made the decision with regret, but wanted to ensure the safety of the public, and could not wait any longer to cancel or continue because of unknowns with Washington phasing laws come September.
Vendor input had much to do with the decision to cancel Huckleberry Fest.
“We were talking with vendors from east of here, and with 200 or more new cases in the Yakima area and new cases happening each week, we knew it was not a good idea to continue,” Stewart said.
It joins another early-September large gathering in being called off for 2020: Cross Channel Swim, sponsored by Hood River of Commerce, has also been called off.
The Port of Klickitat has hosted a do-it-yourself fireworks event since 2004 at Bingen Point with assistance from the cities of Bingen and White Salmon, the Klickitat County Sheriff’s Office, Fire District 13, and others. Quickly becoming an annual tradition and popular with locals and visitors alike, the fireworks event has drawn crowds from around the area.
In Klickitat County and both Hood River County locations, concerns over crowds gathering and the potential spread of Covid led organizers to cancel. Port of Cascade Locks announced cancellations in June. Hood River Lions announced last month that the fireworks show and all other July 4 events -- parade, Jackson Park events, Kollas-Cranmer Run -- have been cancelled. In addition, Lions will not be selling fireworks at its stand this year.
“Crowds of over 50 people are not permitted until Klickitat County has reached a point where it can reopen under Phase 4,” explained Marc Thornsbury, the Port’s Executive Director, in a press release. “It is our understanding the County is in Phase 2 and could not enter Phase 4 until July 6, even under perfect conditions.”
A jump in new cases that appears to be the result of activities occurring on another holiday, Memorial Day, has also given the Port Commission reason to be cautious.
“The County has been doing well in limiting the spread of the virus, but we don’t want to become complacent and end up going backward,” said Port Commissioner Wayne Vinyard. “In addition, we have to consider the well-being of our partners, first responders, and volunteers.”
“With everything else people have been asked to forego this year, we waited to make the decision to cancel the event until it was clear there was no viable alternative,” added Thornsbury. “We recognize this decision will be a disappointment to many, but it does not signal the end of the event and we look forward to playing host again in 2021.” As a reminder, the Port prohibits the use of fireworks anywhere on its properties and violations may result in removal from Port property.