By John Dowd 

Noxon fireworks show to go on


For the first time in 45 years, the Noxon Bicentennial community park committee has canceled the Fourth of July celebrations due to COVID-19 regulations. In a committee meeting held in May, the members decided not to host their annual festivities. “A majority felt it could be very difficult to hold their regular activities while complying with regulations and guidelines,” said committee member Joyce Hilt. Fortunately, the committee found that the annual fireworks display could still be hosted, as people could follow social distancing guidelines, as well as remain inside their vehicles during the show.

The Noxon Bicentennial community park committee has cared for and hosted events at the park since its creation nearly 45 years ago. The first Fourth of July celebration was held in 1976. “Our first priority is to protect our community from the virus,” said committee member Sharon Larkin. The event normally showcases a parade, food and game booths, as well as various vendors. None of those activities will be present this year.

The fireworks show was originally put on by the rural fire department, however after an accidental injury the responsibility was up in the air. Resident Larry Wanamaker and his son Tim took on the challenge and even went to get certified as firework technicians to produce the show safely. When the fire department did the show, the fireworks were lit manually. Now the Wanamakers run the show electronically, wiring the fireworks and setting them off using a single control system. They mount the fireworks to a platform on a trailer and choreograph it beforehand. “Some people say it’s a better show than what they have seen around,” Larry said.

Larry and Tim, along with Sherry Sutherland, have been doing the fireworks for four years. All the work done is volunteer, and Larry must drive to Helena to pick up the fireworks. They are insured through the company from which they purchase the fireworks, which does save on funding. The cost of hosting the display is around $4,000, Wanamaker said, and raising the funds has become difficult. Last year the funds came nearly $1,100 short, and Larry had to cover the rest.

This year the group is raising money to pay him back as well as to cover the event. Any extra will go to oncoming years. “It would be awesome to get a yearly sponsor,” Larry said, although he also said that currently the funds are on track and they are not nearly as behind as last year. He said that if they can raise enough funds, they would like to make the show bigger in future years, and not necessarily longer; “with bigger explosions.”

Sanders County Ledger canvas prints

Larry wanted to personally thank all those who have donated to the cause of keeping the Noxon Fourth of July fireworks show a reality. Any donations can be addressed to the Noxon Bicentennial Park.


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