Melaleuca Freedom Celebration set July 4 in Idaho Falls

By Kendra Evensen

IDAHO FALLS — The 23rd Annual Melaleuca Freedom Celebration fireworks show may be free for the many families who will attend, but the freedoms it celebrates have come at a high cost over the country’s 239-year history.

That’s what organizers hope people will remember when they attend the fireworks show that will take place at the Greenbelt in downtown Idaho Falls around 10 p.m. on Independence Day.

“Melaleuca created this experience to pay tribute to our country’s veterans, soldiers and their families, all of whom have sacrificed for the freedoms of this great nation,” Melaleuca CEO Frank VanderSloot said. “This experience recognizes those who gave us a free country.”

Thanks to those who’ve fought for the country, the “rocket’s red glare” and “the bombs bursting in air” on Saturday will be part of the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi. The celebration is expected to attract 100,000 to 200,000 people to Idaho Falls. 

“We take our freedoms for granted when, in reality, they came at a horrible price,” VanderSloot said. “This show is about taking 30 minutes to pay tribute to all of the courageous men and women who paid that price.”

Melaleuca officials say this year’s program, which will include 17,490 shells, should be spectacular. Some of the larger shells will shoot up to more than 400 feet.

“As measured by the number of shells fired into the night sky, this show is one of America’s biggest and best firework displays for pure pyrotechnic firepower, averaging ten shells per second,” said Damond Watkins, vice president of Melaleuca.

The show offers more firepower than what you’d see above the skylines of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Houston and other major cities.

Western Display Fireworks of Canby, Ore., produces the fireworks show for Melaleuca. Watkins said the company spends months choreographing the 30-minute show and six days setting everything up.

“They assemble 1,500 mortar tubes, construct the fireworks in four zones and test circuits to ensure a seamless shoot,” Watkins said.

The fireworks are synchronized with patriotic music and messages that will be broadcast over KLCE Classy 97.3 FM.

Precision between the breathtaking explosions and the music heard over the radio happens because the fireworks are all computer-fired. The designers decide which special effect to use depending on the mood of the song or patriotic message at that moment.

“The combination of music, message and fireworks stirs emotions – people feel a deeper appreciation for our nation’s heroes, take time to honor our veterans and reflect on their own patriotism,” VanderSloot said. “They use these moments to embrace the blessing of being an American.”

Before the 10 p.m. fireworks, the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration will also include an outdoor banquet, brief speeches by dignitaries and a performance by the Freedom Symphony. Tickets to that event, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Shilo Inn, located at 780 Lindsay Blvd., cost $29 for adults and $16 for children. They can be purchased at the Melaleuca store at 330 N. Capital Ave. 

Melaleuca officials hope those who attend the festivities will take pride in being Americans as they remember — and hopefully show gratitude for — all of those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms they enjoy.

While Melaleuca strives to bring people a bigger and better show each year, VanderSloot said the cost is nominal when compared to what others have given. 

“When people ask what a show like this costs, our answer is, ‘It costs absolutely nothing compared to the price that our veterans have paid for our freedom,’” he said.

For more information about this year’s event, visit

Where is the best place to safely watch the fireworks?

The fireworks display is visible all along the Idaho Falls Greenbelt. There are are many ideal places to watch the fireworks so this will ultimately depend on how early you arrive and your own preferences. The fireworks will be shot from the boat ramp nearest the Highway 20 bridge. Any location along the entire Idaho Falls Greenbelt will afford ideal viewing.

Where can I park?

Parking is always at a premium – and spaces fill up fast. Most hotel lots are reserved for their guests. You are urged to car pool and find parking away from the Greenbelt and then walk in.

Street Closures in Idaho Falls:

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