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. That’s because this town hosts the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi River. When measured by the number of shells fired, this show offers more firepower than what you’d see above the skylines of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Houston and other major cities.
Creating one of the best fireworks shows in America has been a passion for the event’s sponsor, Melaleuca, an Idaho Falls-based company that manufactures health and wellness products. Now in its 22nd year, the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration will launch 17,450 shells over the Snake River in a 30-minute production that is free to the public.
The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration hasn’t always held the top spot. Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot made the decision to ramp up the fireworks when many cities were downsizing or canceling their shows altogether. After researching the shell count needed to create the top show west of the Mississippi, VanderSloot gave the nod. He was done with saying the show was the second or third largest in the West.
VanderSloot’s childhood in northern Idaho has shaped the event into what it is today. He recalls making sparklers from mulberry weeds, enjoying campfires and watching the neighborhood fireworks rise over Cocolalla Lake. He saw that fireworks pulled people together and created a spirit of gratitude. He believes they still have a similar effect.
Thanks to his company’s involvement, VanderSloot now watches a more elaborate show. The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration averages more than 10 shells per second, launches thrilling special effects and culminates in a grand finale of thousands of shells.
Melaleuca adds to the show’s budget each year to ensure it remains the largest show west of the Mississippi. All fireworks are choreographed note for note and shell for shell with popular music and patriotic messages.
“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 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.”
And VanderSloot has learned that people don’t keep those feelings to themselves. The Melaleuca Freedom Celebration’s popularity has spread like wildfire. It doubles or triples the city’s population. It entertains the immediate audience around the Snake River and those viewing it from miles away.
Logistics for the show require 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.
As far as choreographing the program, Western Display uses its technology to synchronize each shell with the music. Precision between the breathtaking explosions and the music heard over the radio happens because the fireworks are all computer-fired. The designers decide which special effect to use depending on the mood of the song or patriotic message at that moment.
The 2014 program will be broadcast live on KLCE Classy 97.3 FM. Along with the music, a narration takes the audience through key events in our nation’s history.
The fireworks begin to light up the sky and reflect off 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. For more details, visit http://www.freedomcelebration.com/.
Melaleuca is a manufacturer and distributor of more than 350 natural health, home cleaning, pharmaceutical and personal care products. Founded in 1985, Melaleuca generates $1 billion in annual revenue and reaches households across the world.
2015’s Melaleuca Freedom Celebration Video