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Here's the rundown on Fourth of July events occurring in St. Helens this Thursday

If you’re planning on heading out to the St. Helens “A Time to Remember” Fourth of July festivities this Thursday, be sure to check out this list of scheduled events and fun things to do:


After a year without an organized fireworks show in St. Helens — a development tied principally to budget restrictions and fundraising shortfalls — this year marks a return of Fourth of July fireworks celebrations in St. Helens. Starting at dusk — which is expected to occur around 10 p.m. — South Columbia County residents and visitors from around the region will be treated to an explosive fireworks presentation taking place over the Columbia River. The fireworks will be launched from Sand Island, and the presentation is being touted as the largest in the city’s history.

St. Helens Fireworks Display

Where: Fireworks will be launched from Sand Island

When: Dusk (around 10 p.m.)

by: SUBMITTED - A historical parade takes place in St. Helens' Plaza Park, as depicted in this altered historical photo.

13 Nights on the River

Live music is a must-have for any festive occasion. This year, 13 Nights on the River organizers have lined up local band Sweetwater — composed of members Jacqueline Roberts, Jeff Curry, Blake Nelson, Steve Howell and Dave Niederiaufner — to headline the Fourth of July evening. Sweetwater’s sound is described as the apex where “old country meets new country.” Open-air market throughout the day, music starts at 1 p.m.

13 Nights on the River concert and open-air market

Who: Sweetwater Band, a five-member country music band. Also playing are Summer Januaries, Midnight Serenaders and Workin’ for the Weekend (a Loverboy tribute band.)

When: Market throughout the day.; music starts at 1 p.m.

“Everyman’s War” special screening

Craig and Thad Smith, two of Don and Dorine Smith’s five children, had initially set out to document their father’s experiences as an infantry sergeant in World War II in a short story. The brothers intended to adopt the story into a 20-minute short film.

They soon realized, however, they had more than enough material and expanded their ambitions to include the production of a feature-length film. Craig was on task to write a novel and screenplay and Thad, who worked as a commercial director, would produce and direct it.

The result is 2009’s critically acclaimed and award-winning “Everyman’s War.” With the exclusion of winter scenes collected near Mt. Hood and a handful of others filmed in Astoria, rural areas around Scappoose serve as backdrop to this historical telling of Don Smith’s service as a sergeant in the 94th Infantry during the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. Don received multiple awards for his heroic actions, including the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

“I’ve always wanted to do this story about my dad,” said Thad, speaking to the Spotlight in 2009. “This is about a real guy. This is my dad, and it’s his story.”

Special screening of “Everyman’s War,” including World War II decorations for the screening area

Where: Columbia Center, St. Helens Library

When: July 4 at 3 p.m.

About: 104 minutes, NR

Cost: $25 (includes opportunity to meet director Thad Smith, get signed posters and promotional items, catered food via Dockside Restaurant and Sunshine Pizza. All proceeds benefit the local Elks Club Veterans Relief Fund)

Tickets: Available by calling Alta at 503-369-7635.

Also available at Wauna Federal Credit Union locations and the St. Helens Library.

Bonamici plans Fourth visit to St. Helens

Fourth of July organizers on June 27 announced U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici is planning to visit the Benevalent Protective Order of the Elks Lodge #1999 July 4 pancake feed in St. Helens Plaza Park between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Jeannine “JJ” Duehren, the event’s organizer, said Oregon National Guard 1st Lt. Matthew Branstetter for the St. Helens National Guard Armory will also be on hand.

“Right now, we’re contacting young veterans who are going to be shipping off to see if we can get them down here,” Duehren said. St. Helens has planned an all-day Fourth of July celebration around the national holiday, including the largest fireworks display at dusk the city has every seen.

Patriotic Pet Parade

Think your pooch has the star-spangled sparkle that sets it apart from the pack? If so — and if you’re scratching for a shot at winning a sizzling $100 — register for the Columbia Humane Society’s Walk ’N Wag Patriotic Pet Parade.

The parade begins the morning of Independence Day on 1st Street by the Plaza Park in Old Town St. Helens. The route is a half-mile long and participants will be offered pancakes — puppy pancakes for dogs — at the finish line, courtesy of Elks Lodge #1999. Participants will also receive a parade T-shirt.

First prize of $100 and bragging rights goes to the most patriotically — red, white and blue — dressed dog. Ribbons will be awarded for places first through fifth, as well as consolation prizes for placing in the top five. All money raised from entrance fees goes to the Columbia Humane Society to aid in its mission of animal rescue.

Following the parade is a Columbia Humane Society pet adoption event occurring 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Plaza Park.

Columbia Humane Society’s Walk ’N Wag Patriotic Pet Parade

Where: Plaza Park (near the old Columbia County Courthouse), 1st Street, St. Helens

When: 8:30 a.m.

Cost: $25 for pre-registration; $30 morning of parade

More info: Parade registration forms are available at www.columbiahumane.org under heading “News and Events.”

Classic Car Show

Despite the customary tip of the hat to apple pie and baseball as All-American staples, most would be hard pressed to find something as fundamentally patriotic as a classic, American-made automobile.

Bring in the Highway 30 Cruisers.

The Highway 30 Cruisers car club formed three years ago and is composed mainly of Columbia County auto enthusiasts who have a passion for American-made cars. In fact, one of the club’s requirements is that its members own an American-made vehicle manufactured in 1975 or earlier.

This Fourth of July, Highway 30 Cruisers members and their machines will begin arriving at 1st Street in St. Helens between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for a the presentation of a Classic Car Show. Included in the appearance of souped-up classic cars and trucks will be an antique fire truck.

Highway 30 Cruisers Classic Car Show

When: Arriving at 1st Street, St. Helens, between

10 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Scavenger Hunt!

Scavenger hunts for many harken to simpler times, when kids would gather in a backyard, be bestowed a list of coveted artifacts and directed to fan out across the neighborhood in a hurried search to win the hunt and claim the prize.

For St. Helens’ Fourth of July “A Time to Remember” celebration, the presence of a neighborhood- and business-friendly scavenger hunt seemed like a good fit.

“I just thought it would be an easy way to get people who are down attending the festivities to get into the businesses,” said Melissa Serafin, Main Street Program coordinator for the St. Helens Economic Development Corporation, or SHEDCO.

Children and parents are encouraged to visit the SHEDCO booth in Plaza Park to receive scavenger hunt clues. Participants will be tasked with visiting Old Town businesses to solve the scavenger hunt puzzle.

“They will be given a handout, and it will have a clue and what store the clue relates to,” Serafin said.

With each successful treasure discovered, the store employee would mark the participant’s card. The industrious person who is first to complete the quest stands to receive a gift certificate from local merchants valued at more than $100, plus a winner’s ribbon.

What: Fourth of July Inaugural Scavenger Hunt!

Where: SHEDCO booth in Plaza Park, area businesses

When: Starts at 11 a.m., July 4

Splash it up!

After nearly four years of visioning exercises, fundraising through brick sales, collaboration with a wide spectrum of the St. Helens business community for donated resources and no small amount of heartburn, the St. Helens spray park in Columbia View Park, called Splash It Up!, is set for a grand opening and dedication ceremony July 4 starting at 1 p.m.

The park originated from a 2009 Ford Family Leadership program, ultimately outgrowing its modest beginnings as a one-year exercise with a budget of $12,000 to a four-year project with a final price tag of $130,000.

Anita Goodwin, co-project manager for Splash It Up!, said the Fourth of July dedication marks the close of a chapter in her life that saw a lot of hard work, frustration and, ultimately, success.

“It never ever stalled completely,” Goodwin said. “We kept pushing it forward. We kept making our presentation. I think what happened is that, once we sold our first brick, there was no going back.” Bricks sold to community members and businesses as part of the fundraising effort have since been incorporated into the park structure.

Last fall, the development team conducted a test of the spray park. Goodwin said the children’s reaction to it made the effort all worthwhile.

“All over that downtown area, you could hear the kids just laughing and playing, and it fills your body with joy to hear that childhood happiness going on,” she said.

Splash it up! grand opening and dedication

Where: Columbia View Park, splash park area

When: 1 p.m.

Ice Cream Eating Contest

Nothing says summer like shoving scoops of ice cream down the gullet on a hot day. This year, those with no fear of the dreaded brainfreeze can test their mettle at the Fourth of July Ice Cream Eating Contest. The top five gulpers win status among their peers and a ribbon for their efforts.

Ice Cream Eating Contest

Where: Plaza Park

When: 1 p.m.

Elks Pancake Feed and Hamburger/

Hotdog Cookout

Building a hunger from all the Fourth of July activities? You’re in luck. The St. Helens Elks Lodge #1999 is hosting a pancake feed from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Starting at 11 a.m., the Elks will have hamburgers and hotdogs for sale.

Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks Lodge #1999 Pancake feed (8:30 a.m.); hamburgers and hotdogs (11 a.m.)

Where: Plaza Park

St. Helens plans July 4 trash can contest

The Summer Arts in the Parks Program’s third annual Trash Can Painting Competition will be held in Columbia View Park Thursday, July 4, at 9:30 a.m. Two top prizes of $200 will be awarded for “Most artistic Merit” and “Best Park Theme.” Last year, the event produced 12 colorful trash cans which, after receiving a protective anti-graffiti coating, were placed in St. Helens parks. The trash can painting competition is sponsored by the St. Helens Arts and Cultural Commission and the City of St. Helens Public Works Department.

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