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

Liberty Lake residents can enjoy two firework shows to celebrate the Fourth of July

Jodi and Jeff O’Shea stand Monday on the platform that will stage a Fourth of July fireworks display on Liberty Lake. They have been in charge of the fireworks over the lake since 2020.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

From some spots in Liberty Lake, residents can view not one but two firework shows on the Fourth of July.

The city of Liberty Lake sponsors one display that launches from between its baseball fields and Liberty Lake Elementary school. The other celebration, “The Liberty Lake Over the Water Fireworks Show Spectacular,” involves pyrotechnics that are launched from the lake. It is paid for by community donations.

The annual show run by the city is “one of our most well-attended events,” said Jen Camp, Liberty Lake’s operations and maintenance director. The city teams with the Liberty Lake Kiwanis club to offer concessions at Pavilion Park. Live music will be performed from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. by Spokane band Too Slim and the Taildraggers.

Molly Britt is a Post Falls resident who drives to attend the City of Liberty Lake show at Pavilion Park. Britt said she appreciates the simplicity of the display.

“It’s amazing but gets straight to the point,” Britt said.

There is rich history surrounding fireworks launched from Liberty Lake. As early as the 1910s, Independence Day was a special event for the resorts on the water, and Spokane residents would come to relax and watch the display. The largest known crowd was in July 1924, when 1,400 people came to celebrate.

Liberty Lake fireworks have been shot off irregularly since then. But for the past three years, they have been brought back in full force by Liberty Lake resident Jeff O’Shea and his wife, Jodi.

“The first year I ran the show, it was like using a parachute without knowing if it would work,” O’Shea said.

During his first year, O’Shea used an old log raft. It became swamped with water in the middle of the display. Nothing was damaged, but to avoid repeating this incident, the team behind Water Spectacular has now transitioned to a floating dock that serves as a barge.

This new barge is much more stable and coated with plywood to prevent water from getting to the mortars. Organizers plan to load the barge with fireworks on Tuesday and push it out into the water.

“This year, we are pulling it to the center of the lake,” O’Shea said.

Last year, people as far as Otis Orchards could see the show. This July, O’Shea hopes to extend visibility even farther.

“This year is going to be our best ever,” said O’Shea. “The weather’s going to be awesome, and there’s a lot more confidence with the barge.”

While the city sponsors the park show, the lake show is 100% community-funded. To raise money, organizers hold an online fundraising campaign and post signs around Liberty Lake.

“I don’t know of another show like that,” O’Shea said. “It costs a lot of money.”

The Liberty Lake Over the Water Fireworks Show Spectacular will be visible from Liberty Lake County Park, Liberty Lake Boat Launch and Pavillion Park.

“The fireworks show really defines Liberty Lake, and it’s up to us to re-create it,” O’Shea said.

Steve Underwood, of Rocketman Pyrotechnics, is in charge of setting off the fireworks. Close to 1,000 are launched.

“Most of my stuff’s big,” Underwood said. “We try to change it up every year.”

Underwood has been specializing in fireworks since 1986 and does shows from Wenatchee to Missoula. His team is running 23 different displays this week, but Underwood said he enjoys the unique nature of the lake show.

“It’s definitely challenging,” Underwood said.

Cannon Parsons, a 16-year-old who recently moved to Liberty Lake from Rathdrum, was excited about the two separate shows, he said, because it will allow everyone a better experience.

“It will be cool to be able to see both at the same time, and hopefully there will be no overcrowding,” Parsons said.

Paige Van Buren's reporting is part of the Teen Journalism Institute, funded by Bank of America with support from the Innovia Foundation.