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July skies will burst with color and sparks

The patriotic hoopla of Independence Day will be in the air literally on Friday. A number of Portland area venues are primed for celebrating and lighting the skies with fireworks. Here's a glimpse at some of the big shows.

Fort Vancouver 4th of JulyFireworks Spectacular

This display is billed as the largest annual fireworks show west of the Mississippi River. The celebration is officially free, but attendees are encouraged to 'take $4 to the 4th' to support the event. Fireworks start at 10:10 p.m. Friday at the Vancouver National Historic Reserve by the reconstructed Fort Vancouver, between Interstate 5 and East Reserve Street on Officers Row in downtown Vancouver, Wash.

The celebration begins at 11:45 a.m. with nonstop live entertainment, and sky divers will perform feats throughout the day. Festival-goers can choose from among a number of food options while browsing historical and educational exhibits. Visit www.vnhrt.org on the Web or call 1-360-992-1800.

Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival

One of Portland's favorite summertime music events kicks off at noon Thursday at Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The event features a fireworks show at 10 p.m. Friday over the Willamette River south of the Hawthorne Bridge.

More than 100 blues artists will perform during the four-day event, with proceeds benefiting the Oregon Food Bank. Daily admission is $5 plus two cans of nonperishable food. Call 503-973-3378.

Oaks Amusement Park

Park gates open at 10 a.m. Friday. Rides run from noon to midnight, and the park's 98th annual fireworks display begins at 9:55 p.m.

The park is at the foot of Southeast Sixth Avenue and Spokane Street. Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children 16 and younger. Alcohol and personal fireworks are prohibited, and bags may be inspected. Call 503-233-5777.

PGE Park

Baseball fans will have front-row seats for the post-game fireworks display at PGE Park on Friday night. The Portland Beavers host the Edmonton Trappers at 6:05 p.m. Fireworks will begin about 15 minutes after the game's end.

The stadium is at 1844 S.W. Morrison St. Tickets for the game are $6 to $10, available at the box office, 503-553-5555, or through Ticketmaster (503-224-4400), subject to service charges.

Blue Lake Regional Park

Activities include swimming all day and music beginning at 4 p.m. The park features hiking trails, a children's play area and the chance to play volleyball and basketball. The fireworks show launched from the Oregon side of the Columbia River starts at 10 p.m.

Blue Lake is between Northeast Marine Drive and Sandy Boulevard off Northeast 223rd Avenue. Admission is $6 per vehicle. No pets, alcohol or personal fireworks are permitted. Call 503-797-1834.