You won’t find a better place in the 22 states west of the Mississippi River to watch a Fourth of July fireworks show than in Idaho Falls, Idaho. With 17,550 shells fired over the banks of the Snake River in a 31-minute production that is free to the public, the 24th Annual Melaleuca Freedom Celebration is the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi River. When measured by the number of shells fired, this show offers more firepower (more shells fired) than any other western city, including Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver and Houston.
This year’s display averages over 9 shells per second and features a grand finale composed of thousands of shells. The show’s producers scoured the globe to find the best special effects from the leading firework manufacturers and have brought them to Idaho Falls.
The 2016 show includes vibrant, ornate special effects that have never been seen before in the Northwest. Twirling serpents, titanium tourbillions, green and yellow serpentines, and umbrella canopies are a few of the additions.
Thousands of larger, more powerful shells will also fly higher than former years, allowing the audience to enjoy the entirety of the fireworks display from further distances.
Creating one of the best fireworks shows in America has been a passion for the event’s sponsor, Melaleuca, a manufacturer of health and wellness products headquartered in Idaho Falls. Melaleuca adds to the show’s budget each year to ensure it remains the largest show west of the Mississippi on Independence Day.
In addition to the impressive shell count, all of the fireworks are choreographed note for note and shell for shell with popular music and patriotic messages. This year’s program, “Salute to American Heroes,” honors patriots, brave veterans, soldiers and their families. Along with the music, a narration takes the audience through key events in our nation’s history.
The program is broadcast live on KLCE Classy 97.3 FM and synched with the fireworks.
“Melaleuca created this experience to pay tribute to our country’s soldiers and their families, all of whom have sacrificed for the freedoms of this great nation,” said Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot. “The combination of fireworks, music and message stirs emotions – people feel a deeper sense of patriotism and appreciation for our nation’s heroes. They use these moments to reflect upon the blessing of being an American.”
The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration brings an estimated attendance of 150,000 spectators, which regularly triples the city’s population.
It’s guaranteed that most people who are seeing this show for the first time have never seen anything like it.
“There’s nothing I’ve seen that compares to it,” says Tammy Deal of Hamby, Texas, who attended last year’s event with her husband Ronnie. ““Here (in Texas), we sit on tailgates watching firecrackers—and we have a heyday. There, we really felt like we were paying tribute to America.”
Setting up for the show requires a six-day process from the pyrotechnic team at Western Display Fireworks. The Oregon-based company produces 300 fireworks shows per year, but the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration is its largest.
The fireworks are all computer-fired, ensuring precision between the breathtaking explosions and the music heard over the radio. The designers decide which special effect to use depending on the mood of the song or patriotic message at that moment.
The fireworks will begin to light up the sky around the Snake River around 10 p.m. An outdoor banquet, brief speeches by dignitaries and a performance by the Freedom Symphony take place at a special event beginning at 7 p.m. at the Shilo Inn, 780 Lindsay Blvd., Idaho Falls.
While the fireworks show is free, tickets to the banquet event are available for purchase at the Melaleuca store at 330 N. Capital Ave. in Idaho Falls. Tickets are $29 for adults and $16 for children.