Friday, July 7, 2006

Fourth celebrations a success

Calls to Hailey Fire and Police departments about normal

Express Staff Writer

Public attendance at Hailey's Days of Old West Independence Day Parade on July 4 was a bit above normal this year, Hailey Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Spinelli said Thursday. The parade also drew about three times as many floats compared to last year. Photo by Willy Cook

Despite a last-minute thunderstorm that threatened to stop Hailey's fireworks display and reports of illegal fireworks and excessive noise by holiday revelers, Fourth of July celebrations in Hailey and the rest of the Wood River Valley were safe, fun and exciting.

Overall, early estimates indicate that more people participated in the various Fourth of July events in Hailey than in recent years, said Jim Spinelli, executive director of the Hailey Chamber of Commerce.

The number of floats in the 2006 Hailey's Days of Old West Independence Day Parade was triple that of last year's, Spinelli said. Altogether, close to 90 parade participants signed up for this year's parade.

"It was bigger; it was better; it was more fun," Spinelli said.

This year's Hailey Chamber of Commerce barbecue at Hop Porter Park also drew a higher number of participants, Spinelli said. The barbecue is the largest fund-raiser for the Hailey chamber.

The barbecue drew about 1,000 people this year, about 25 percent more than last year, Spinelli said. It raised about $10,000 for the chamber, he said.

"I'm happy," he said. "The more money we make here, the more we can put back into advertising."

Public feedback he's received so far about the various Fourth of July events has been positive, too. People were especially pleased with the flyover by A-10 Warthogs from the Idaho Air National Guard in Boise, he said.

"That was meant to be a surprise," Spinelli said.

A thunderstorm, rain and high winds that moved through the area before Hailey's fireworks temporarily delayed the fireworks display, Hailey Fire Chief Mike Chapman said.

"Rains, lightning or winds will all delay it," he said.

But when the fireworks finally were lit, they really went off, he said. Of the total 2,957 fireworks mortars included in the display, only 67 were duds, Chapman said. That compares to 400 fireworks mortars that failed to light, out of the 1,400 that went off, last year, he said.

"This is over twice the size," Chapman said. "It was a good show."

Like most years, the Hailey Fire Department responded to a number of calls about illegal fireworks, he said. Firefighters also responded to five brush fires. Hailey firefighters and police officers confiscated a high number of commercial-grade fireworks, which are illegal to shoot off without a permit.

"You're just going, 'What are you doing?'" Chapman said. "It's just so frustrating."

Luckily, though, the rains that passed through the area probably helped suppress many fires.

"We would have had a lot more of it if it wouldn't have rained," Chapman said.

Overall, the number of fire calls the fire department received was relatively minor, he said, "disconcerting, but minor."

For officers with the Hailey Police Department, the number of calls they responded to was about average, Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary said Tuesday.

"This was one of the better Fourths," McNary said. "It was a pretty good week all in all."

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