This year's Fabulous 4th fireworks to be less visible outside of Coulon Park

The city of Renton is hoping this years Fourth of July fireworks show at Gene Coulon Park will be the best show they've done so far. But you may have to be in the park to see it.

For the first time since the city began it's July 4 celebration, this year's fireworks will not be fired off from a barge 1,000 feet from shore, but from the Ivar's water walk.

That means instead of the usual height of about 600 feet in the air, this year's explosions will only reach about 300 feet, making it difficult to see from surrounding homes and hills.

The change is due to increased regulations and hazardous materials transportation and safety standards.

According to Sonja Mejlaender of the Renton Community Relations and Events department, the city must find a place south of the Interstate 90 bridge to load its shells on to the barge, that would then be towed into place near the park.

In the past, the city used a spot in Kenmore, but that location has become a construction site for the new state Route 520 bridge and is no longer available.

Because of the larger shells used for the fireworks show, a setback of 1,000 feet from all residences is required. And south of the highways, there are no commercial locations available to load a barge.

The city even tried working with Boeing, but because fireworks are a hazardous material, Boeing could not approve using their land for the barge either.

"We all wanted to get to 'yes,'" Mejlaender said. "We exhausted ourselves for months."

But the city could not "get to yes" and this year's fireworks will consist of smaller shells fired from closer to shore, which means they will not go as high in the air and there may be more obstructed views from homes that are used to being able to see the show.

"Instead of going 600 feet, it will goo 300 feet," Mejlaender said.

However, Mejlaender said the costs of putting on the fireworks display have risen steadily in recent years, particularly in barge costs. So by using smaller shells and launching from land, the city was able to put more resources into the show itself, which Mejlaender said should be the bast ever.

"If you are in the park," she added.

Mejlaender said in the past the show has always catered to those actual in the park, but this year it will be evenĀ  more so, with a higher "saturation" of fireworks.

"For Coulon attendees we hope it's the best show they've seen in a decade," she said.

At 300 feet, the fireworks will still be exploding overhead at the height of a 30-story building, "But there is a difference between 300 feet and 600 feet (in height)," Mejlaender said.

"This is not our preference," she added. "We really tired."

The change is expected to be a permanent one. Last year, more than 20,000 people visited Gene Coulon Memorial park on July 4.

During the event and for two weeks following, the city will be hosting a survey to gain resident feedback on the change. The survey will be available at the park on July 4 and on the city website after.

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