Have a happy and safe Fourth

It’s been a beautiful summer and with Independence Day right around the corner, I want to encourage everyone to make safety your first priority. With the Sleepy Hollow Wildfire devastating our neighbors in Eastern Washington and the series of fires intentionally set along I-5 June 30th, as well as the home that burned on 27th Avenue recently, the potential for fire is at the forefront of my mind.
Boom City has become a beloved part of the Tulalip landscape over the last four decades. Ask an elder and you’ll hear about its humble beginnings when a handful of shacks were constructed every year to sell firecrackers, then torn down after to Fourth. Now this iconic summer village is transported one stand at a time from yards across the reservation to Quil Ceda Village. Boom City is an entrepreneurial incubator featuring over a hundred small businesses, each with their own character and panache. 
How many of you received your first training in business working at a fireworks stand? You learned to bargain, to understand the value of goods and to make sure you got a return on your investment. While fireworks have played an important role in creating business savvy in our community, they’re also a potential source heartache. Every year the hospital emergency room sees countless injuries related to fireworks, and the fire department works countless hours trying to keep our homes and lands safe. Unfortunately, they’re not always successful, which is why I’m asking you, our citizens, to take control of your safety and be extra careful this year.
Tulalip, like the entire State, is experiencing the effects of our drought. Our salmon hatchery is struggling to supply enough water to keep smolts alive and healthy. Our utilities department has instituted watering schedules to conserve water. Everywhere you look you see dry grass and wilted greenery. The Reservation is currently observing a burn ban. Add our current heat wave and not only is it fireworks season, it’s fire season. 
There are many ways to safely enjoy fireworks. One of my favorites is a professional fireworks display. The Seafair Summer Fourth on the shores of Lake Union is a favorite, Renton, Kirkland, Bainbridge Island and Bellevue are also hosting shows. If you want to stay a little closer to home the City of Arlington holds a fireworks show as part of their Frontier Days celebration. Everett hosts a downtown parade, festivities and the ‘Thunder on the Bay’ fireworks show on Grand Avenue park at 10:20 p.m., and for those of us with family in Darrington, you can look forward to family activities, a parade and fireworks at dusk. 
If you can’t give up your tradition of lighting fireworks, consider lighting them the same place you buy them. Boom City features an expanded lighting area this year. To make sure things stay safe, there are two staffers on duty and a water truck to extinguish any fires before they can expand. The other advantage to lighting fireworks at Boom City is that you don’t have to deal with the mess. Boom City employs a clean-up crew every year to take out the trash.
If you’re lighting at home, please be careful, use common sense and be safe. Some of the worst offenders for starting fires are unpredictable fireworks like jumping jacks. One of the popular buys this year, is a 500gram cake called ‘Feed the Beast’ in tribute to Marshawn Lynch. Fireworks like this are safer for a number of reasons, first, you get 24 shots by lighting a single fuse, which means there’s less chance of personal injury. Second, the display is high in the air, and the spark is gone by the time it reaches the ground. 
If you are lighting fireworks at home, prep the area. Make sure that you’re lighting on bare earth or pavement, not a dry grass field. Have a charged water hose ready. You might feel silly, but wear safety glasses to protect your eyes. Never allow children to light fireworks unsupervised and remember, fireworks and alcohol don’t mix. 
Last, remember that fireworks aren’t the only source of fire. Barbecues and campfires, lit cigarettes and even sparks from welding can start fire. To quote my good friend Smokey the Bear, only you can prevent wildfires. I want to wish everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July full of family, friends and great times. 
Mel Sheldon
Tulalip Tribes Chairman