BONNERS FERRY — On the Norman Rockwell scale of how well the 2019 Fourth of July went, in being the ideal small-town celebration, with 10 being the ultimate Norman Rockwell day, organizer Gary Leonard said this year was an eight and a half or a nine.
“We are a classic small-town celebration with some of the best people on the planet,” Leonard said. “The people here are just incredible. Americana at the best.”
The day began shortly after 5 p.m., as people lined the street, eagerly awaiting the annual parade to begin. As the lines of floats, fire trucks, and more came down, some throwing candy for the scampering children, the waves and cheers were genuine. In a small town, it is not always the shiny vintage car, or rusty old tractor, it is about who was riding or driving. People loved recognizing their friends and neighbors.
Boundary County Chaplain Len Pine was among the parade goers, but he was far from done. After the parade ended, the opening ceremony took place. Pine was again part of the celebration as part of the Boundary County Fire Service Honor Guard, which presented the colors. It was followed by an invocation by Boundary County Sheriff Dave Kramer. Leonard took to the stage next with the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by Bonners Ferry Rotary Club President Kristie Campbell singing the national anthem.
At the same time as the opening ceremonies, Family Fun Night began ahead of schedule. The children’s games, including the potato hop, three-legged race and balloon toss is put on by the Bonners Ferry Lions Club District No. 7798. This year they were short on members to be able to help with the event, so the Rotary Club of Bonners Ferry stepped up to help.
“This is the first time that the Lions and the Rotary have ever come together and worked as a team in this community,” said Kristie Campbell, Rotary Club of Bonners Ferry president.
Ross Novinger, the Bonners Ferry Lions Club president, said, “I was so humbled. I was so pleased. It went off really good. That is the great thing about a small town.”
Other events included demonstrations of cheerleading and martial arts, as well as a potato gun. The Bonners Ferry orchestra joined the lineup, playing for the people in chairs around them, as well being broadcasted to the people in the soccer field.
Pine took to the stage one more time as darkness fell, singing “God Bless America,” his final role for the day.
“Independence Day is my favorite day in Bonners. I love being a part of a community that puts everything into celebrating what the day remembers in a zealous and thoughtful way,” Pine said. “There are no strangers at the parade. And the fireworks are some of the best anywhere. It’s just a privilege to be part of it all.”
A brief delay occurred before the fireworks began as the community came together to look for a lost special needs child, who was rescued, safely, from the Kootenai River.
The fireworks then began, impressing the crowd with new additions to the show, including smiley faced fireworks and booms that could be felt as well as heard.
As the finale erupted in thunderous sounds and colored lights, Leonard leaned his head back, watching the explosions and laughed with joy.
“Thank you to the community,” Leonard said. “I’m so proud to live here.”