Anna King’s top 5 picks for Northwest fireworks and fun


Two people are pictured outdoors frying clams in a cast iron skillet. A man is pictured to the left of the skillet, and a woman is to his right.
Frank Lipera and his 87-year-old mother Anna Lipera, Anna King’s great-grandmother, fry clams Sicilian-style in a cast iron skillet at the family’s beach house near Gig Harbor, Washington, on July 4, 1981. (Credit: King family archive)


Ah, the Fourth of July. Some of my Northwest favorite memories are setting small firecrackers off with my brothers and cousins amid the drizzle on a Puget Sound beach from under a blue tarp. 

Heck with the hot dogs! We’d fry cleaned butter clams Sicilian-style over a beach fire – smothered with butter and liberal glugs of olive oil along with chopped garlic, onion, potatoes, zucchini and fresh-ground pepper. Us salty kids in sandals would fish the clams out of the sizzling cast-iron with crusty homemade bread as fast as our Uncle Frankie and fathers could cook ‘em.

We’d finish the holiday with a harrowing drive just outside of Gig Harbor over the Purdy Sand Spit bridge, known as “the spit.” At dark, people still light off tons of fireworks on the side of the road toward the water there. An errant ball of colored fire would sometimes fly toward the car.

For this year’s Fourth, it appears a ridge of high pressure over the West will keep the weather fair with generally clear skies throughout Washington and Oregon. Seattle and Portland are predicted to have no rain, neither will eastern Washington or Oregon, according to the National Weather Service. It’s gonna be just perfect for an adventure further afield! 

When I’m not frying clams with my family, here are a few of my favorite happening spots for Fourth of July fun: 

Rural family fun at the Johnson Parade in 2023.

Rural family fun at the Johnson Parade in 2023. (Credit: Rajah Bose)

1) The Johnson Parade – Real-rural Americana 

What: A hilarious family-friendly parade with big tractors and tiny trikes.

Where: Johnson, Washington. It’s 10 miles south of Pullman on U.S. Route 195. Then, turn on Johnson Road for 2 miles. If you’ve gone to Colton, you’ve gone too far.

When: The parade starts at 10 a.m.  

Locals’ tip: Show up early. People park their cars the night before. Organizers suggest that people park their cars on what used to be the old railroad tracks. The parade starts at the north end of town, loops at the grain elevator and goes back to the start. 

There’s also a hamburger feed at the Whitman County Volunteer Rural Fire District 12 that starts immediately after the parade. A cheeseburger or hamburger with potato salad, beans, chips and a drink will set you back $5, and a hot dog combo is $4. 

Quote: Chris Lynch is a charter Johnson parade member. You might see her blowing a whistle to start the event: “We started it in 1967, it’s our 57th year, God help us! It’s just the image of starting out as four kids, and now it’s maybe 4,000 people. It’s just so fun to see these old neighbors and friends that still continue to come and then the new folk who show up. Cripes, where did they all come from?”  

Faith Perkins, 20, of Benton City, stands with her horse Bolero on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Freedom Rodeo in Basin City.

Faith Perkins, 20, of Benton City, stands with her horse Bolero on Friday, June 17, 2022, at the Freedom Rodeo in Basin City. (Credit: Megan Farmer / KUOW)

2) Basin City Freedom Rodeo – Bulls, dust and love  

What: The Basin City Freedom Rodeo – Bulls, burgers and a cheering crowd.  

Where: 100 Park Drive, Basin City, Washington

When: Gates open at 5 p.m. each day

Locals’ tip: No coolers or outside food or drink is allowed. The seating is on sloped grass. Bring low-slung lawn chairs, blankets, sunscreen and hats.

Quote: “I was born and raised out there and I’ve been going to it since even before they fixed up the grandstands,” said Amy Halverson, a Pasco resident, who goes to the rodeo about every year. “It’s much better now. Since it’s PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) certified now there’s better entertainment, food booths and even a coffee stand out there, which is awesome. There’s a beer garden. The whole event has that real home town feel to it. The fireworks display is totally spectacular.”

Find more info here.

Listen: If you want to hear more about Basin City on your way there, listen to my podcast:

Metro Parks Tacoma Revelers take in the show on Ruston Way in Tacoma.

Revelers take in the show on Ruston Way in Tacoma. (Credit: Russ Carmack / Metro Parks Tacoma)

3) Tacoma waterfront – Sit with your sweetie under the ‘works

What: Live music, food, entertainment, craft vendors and fireworks over Puget Sound.

Where: Along Tacoma’s Ruston Way from Cummings Park to Dune Peninsula at Point Defiance Park. 

When: Noon to 10:30 p.m.

Locals’ tip: Ruston Way is closed, so plan out your parking. 

Quote: “Tacoma’s 4th of July Summer Blast is a cherished tradition that brings our community together in celebration of our nation’s independence,” said Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards in a press release. “I’m thrilled to join Metro Parks Tacoma for this wonderful event, which is the perfect opportunity for families and friends to come together and create lasting memories.”

Find more info here.

The Fourth in Long Beach, Washington, in 2023.

The Fourth in Long Beach, Washington, in 2023. (Credit: Katie Metzger)

4) Long Beach, Washington – Beach fires and fireworks with friends

What: A free fireworks show on the beach.

Where: Take the Bolstad approach to the beach in Long Beach, Washington. 

When: Fireworks start at 10 p.m.

Locals’ tip: Leave the pets at home, it’s too loud. 

Quote: “I think ours [celebration] is pretty incredible, being right on the ocean like it is,” David Glasson, the city administrator of Long Beach, said. “It’s a feast for the eyes and ears.”

Find more info here.

A 2022 naturalization ceremony in Seattle, Washington.

A 2022 naturalization ceremony in Seattle, Washington. (Credit: Susan Fried)

5) Seattle Center – Catch a front row to new citizenship in action

What: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington will welcome approximately 400 new U.S. citizens during a special Independence Day naturalization ceremony under the Space Needle.

Where: Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St. 

When: The ceremony starts at noon.

Locals’ tip: Take the Seattle Monorail to get to the campus quickly.

Quote: “At USCIS we are privileged to administer the Oath of Allegiance to thousands of new citizens during the Independence Day holiday,” said U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services Director Ur M. Jaddou. “These new citizens add diversity and character to our great nation, and we are committed to helping all who are eligible to experience the freedoms and liberties we enjoy as U.S. citizens.”

Find more info here. 



Anna King family’s Fourth of July fried butter clams

  • First, look up what butter clams look like here. This recipe won’t work on Manila clams. 
  • Dig some butter clams from the Puget Sound on the beach of your choice. 
  • But note: Many Northwest beaches are closed right now for shellfish safety reasons. 


(Serves 4)

  • Approximately 20 to 30 medium sized butter clams, or as many as you can dig with your permit. Leave some clams behind for next year! 
  • 2 to 3 zucchini, half-peeled and chopped  
  • 1 medium yellow onion, rough cut 
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, rough cut
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter 
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste 


  • Put the clams in a clean bucket in the shade for a few hours with ocean saltwater.
  • Drain them twice and repeat. This is to get the sand out.
  • Put the clam hinge down on a cutting board, split edges of the clam facing up. 
  • Using a sharp knife, carefully split them open down to the hinge.
  • Fold the clam out flat, and take your thumbs to push the contents of the stomach out with your hands under some clean running water.
  • Wash the clam out.
  • Pat dry the clam a bit with a clean dish towel. Too much water will render them tough.
  • Add rough cut onion, potatoes, zucchini and two to three cloves of diced garlic. 
  • Saute the veggies until tender with a combo of good green olive oil and butter. Then, either remove from the pan or move to one side.
  • Flip the clam with the shell, meat down in a hot fry pan with a combo of butter and olive oil. 
  • Fry the clams until cooked through, no more than two to three minutes. Don’t overcook them or they will be too tough.
  • Hit everything with a bit of salt and pepper
  • Serve everything hot with slices of crusty Italian-style bread, more extra-virgin olive oil and some good wine.

*Recipe courtesy of Gary and Linda King, Anna’s father and mother.