Expect Oak Harbor's greatest Fourth ever

Oak Harbor’s fireworks show at City Beach Park tomorrow night is set to be more spectacular than anything the city has ever seen before.

So says the volunteer licensed pyrotechnician orchestrating the event with a team of volunteers.

“PyroDoc,” also known as Dr. David O’Neill, and other volunteers from throughout the community, have put together an entire Fourth of July production to go along with a fireworks display, an endeavor funded partly by the community through doughnut fundraisers and private donations.

The fireworks production will begin with the U.S. Navy Sea Bees from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station performing a reenactment of the World War II planting of the American flag at Iwo Jima. The reenactment will be set to patriotic music, enhanced by special lighting and then the start of the fireworks show. The show itself will be computer-choreographed to music, something that has never occurred before in an Oak Harbor Fourth of July fireworks display.

“The most new thing is that he’s putting together a sound system,” Priscilla Heistad, executive director of the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce, said of PyroDoc’s organization of the event. “He’s done a great, great job.”

The musical production will also be simulcast on KWDB 1110 AM radio.

“It’s the biggest, nicest, and it’s going to be fun,” PyroDoc said of this year’s production. “Toes will be tapping. It will be emotionally moving.”

PyroDoc said his team of 18 volunteers will be at the park working to get the production ready from about 7 a.m. on the Fourth. Pack up and clean up after the event will keep the volunteers at the park until 2 a.m.

The driving force behind the work of the volunteers, PyroDoc said, is to pay tribute to the U.S. military, both here and abroad, both living and deceased, and to those lost in terrorist actions. The group also wanted to provide Oak Harbor with an event that would enhance the city’s sense of community and to do something that will be good for Oak Harbor.

The Chamber held a number of the doughnut fundraisers to help pay for the event. A remaining balance due will need to be paid off soon, and to help offset the cost the Chamber will be selling strawberry shortcakes from 4 to 8 p.m. to patrons at the celebration at City Beach Park.

The Oak Harbor business community “does a great job” throughout the year supporting local charitable organizations, Heistad said, and with the economic climate of the last year, the Chamber didn’t want to ask businesses to pay for the fireworks show.

“Last year was quite a stretch, so we did need to take a new approach,” Heistad said of this year’s doughnut and strawberry shortcake sales.

The Chamber has put together a full day of events for the Fourth of July, beginning with the parade in the morning. This year the parade will begin at Midway Boulevard and SE Pioneer Way, due to construction at the usual parade route starting point, Skagit Valley College. Afterwards, the festivities are scheduled to continue all day and evening at City Beach Park.

Vendor and food booths will operate in the park from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Vendors in the booths will include craftspeople, commercial businesses and community organizations.

A new event this year is the Rubber Ducky Regatta, thought up by Vicki Archer, the manager of the Oak Harbor branch of Navy Federal Credit Union, Heistad said. So far eight teams are signed up to race in the regatta, which will consist of one to four people each in homemade boats. The boats are made out of any material, and one team signed up with a boat made out of old milk cartons. The teams will race for $900 in cash prizes as well as merchandise.

From 4 to 6 p.m. kids will be able to participate in “old-fashioned games,” Heistad said. Organizers will host sack races, an egg toss and a kickball game.

Celebrants should be easily able to find all the activities in the park, Heistad said.

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