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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Feels like a real summer’: Weather clears up for July 4 celebration at Riverfront Park

Spokane celebrated the Fourth of July with a free concert from the Spokane Symphony and its first traditional fireworks show since 2019 after heavy rains soaked the city early in the day.

Festivities kicked off downtown just as the rain began to let up around noon. The Spokane Symphony was scheduled to perform a free concert at the Pavilion at 9 p.m., followed by the 10 p.m. fireworks show.

Spokane was hit with 0.14 inches of rain by about 3 p.m., making it the sixth wettest Fourth of July on record, according to the National Weather Service Spokane. Spokane’s wettest Fourth of July was in 1902 when the city received more than three-quarters of an inch of rain.

The rainfall was a change of pace for the region after several years of drier weather during this time of year, meteorologist Greg Koch said.

“The one really positive thing we can take away with the wet weather we’ve had (Monday) morning and the last couple of weeks is that we don’t anticipate the number of grass fires in Spokane County that we often experience,” he said.

The rainfall was the last remnant of a slow-moving low pressure system from the Washington-Oregon coast that the weather service forecasted would give way to drier conditions through next weekend.

“To have a system like this this late in the season is good news as far as delaying the wildfire season and the overall improvement of drought conditions,” Koch said.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms continued throughout Eastern Washington north of Spokane later into the afternoon.

The weather service issued flash flood warnings in Kettle Falls, which received 2.33 inches of rain in about a five-hour period.

A return to form

Early arrivals had set up picnic blankets and lawn chairs by 4 p.m. in Riverfront Park as the Spokane Symphony practiced its set of patriotic-themed songs for the city’s Fourth of July celebration at the Pavilion.

Clutches of pro-choice protesters posted themselves around the park with signs.

The Pavilion began to fill for the concert by 6 p.m.

“People who are new to Spokane don’t realize this is totally new and transforming,” Keri Munholand said of the space in Riverfront Park while waiting for the concert to begin alongside her husband. “When the city has this kind of opportunity, why wouldn’t you go?”

The city hopes to make the Spokane Symphony’s Fourth of July concert a regularly occurring event, said Spokane Parks and Recreation spokesperson Fianna Dickson.

Spokane hosted a “drive-in” fireworks celebration that was dispersed throughout different neighborhoods in 2020. In 2021, the fireworks were canceled in Spokane altogether due to wildfire concerns.

This year’s event is a return to form and to pre-COVID programming, Dickson said. “Riverfront really is our community gathering spot – our living room, really.”

From their spot on the Pavilion lawn, Jake Hufnagel and Nicole Fritz said the fireworks show and concert brings a sense of normalcy back to everyday life.

“It feels like a real summer,” Hufnagel said.