There are no shortage of options to celebrate Independence Day in Northwest Montana this summer, with parades, concerts, car shows, a boat parade and, of course, fireworks, everywhere from Polson to Polebridge.
Here’s a look at some of the major events planned for Tuesday.
The annual Kalispell Fourth of July parade steps off on Main Street at 10 a.m., bringing an estimated 80-plus floats and other entries traipsing north from Eight Street all the way to Center Street.
The more than 40-year-old parade should wrap up by 11 a.m., at which point parade-watchers are invited to move east to the lawn of the Museum at Central School for an ice cream social. Free ice cream is provided there, courtesy of Skyes Diner and Norm’s News.
This year, to accommodate swelling attendance at recent parades, cars will not be permitted to park on Main Street after 8 a.m. Tuesday. That allows for an even wider parade route and more room for spectators to line both sides of the road.
Interested entrants in the parade can sign up all the way up the morning of the event, provided they pay the $20 entrance fee. The parade’s theme this year is “Travel the USA” and participants are asked to begin lining up at 8:15 a.m. on Eight Street West.
Fireworks explode over Whitefish Lake at 10:30 p.m. on the Fourth of July in one of two immensely popular shows in the Flathead Valley.
Guests can watch the fireworks either from a boat on the lake or on the shore, although be warned that City Beach can fill up as early as 5 p.m. on July 4.
Shuttle buses will be provided by Eagle Transit from the O’Shaughnessy Center in downtown Whitefish, beginning at 7 p.m. and will shuttle folks back downtown after the show.
Head a little south for the valley’s other giant fireworks celebration, this one launching off of Flathead Lake in Lakeside.
Before the show there’s also a boat parade on the lake, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Lakeside Bay, led by Bye Bitney’s 26-foot Stan Craft boat with the Statue of Liberty on her bow. Boats are decorated and judged, competing for gift certificates and other prizes.
When the sky is pitch black the fireworks begin, around 11 p.m. The show is simulcast on 107.3 FM if you’re not one of the estimated 6,000 people who take in the fireworks live every year. Parking is available up and down U.S. 93 near Somers Bay and Lakeside Bay.
In Bigfork, the annual parade begins at noon and includes horses, clowns, fire trucks and floats rolling down Grand and Electric avenues.
Participants will begin lining up at 9 a.m. and registration closes at 11 a.m. Advance registration is not necessary to enter the parade. The parade will line up on Bigfork Stage Road off of Montana 83, about three miles from the highway. For spectators, parking is available at Crossroads Christian Fellowship and Saint John Paul II Catholic Church. No parking is allowed in downtown Bigfork after 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Read more about everything that’s going on in Bigfork in David Vale’s “The Second Act” column on page 5.
Perhaps the most unique Fourth of July celebration happens in the remote outpost of Polebridge, where for decades people have come together for a parade through the town.
The quirky parade starts sometime near noon at the Polebridge Mercantile and is followed by a pig roast at the Northern Lights Saloon. There will be no fireworks, but live music from Engine 99 and Danny Friend is on tap.
Maybe the oldest Independence Day tradition is Troy’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July, an event that dates back more than 100 years.
It’s a day long party in Lincoln County, with a parade starting at 11 a.m., the Cruisers Car Show at noon and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
The festivities take place at Roosevelt Park, along the Kootenai River near the Troy Bridge. A fireworks display ends the night at around 11 p.m.
The annual Polson Fourth of July parade lines up at 10 a.m. at Cherry Valley School and steps off at noon with the theme “Small Town Independence.”
Later, a fireworks show will fill the air off Flathead Lake’s southern shore.