The last firework exploded sometime around 10:30 p.m. Following a hearty and much deserved round of applause, the great exodus began. Thousands of guests and residents alike trooped away to their cars or residences after a long day of celebrations pointed toward patriotism for our great country.
I too paraded my family to our car — blankets, lawn chairs and exhaustion be damned. But after loading them up, I returned to the beach. I had agreed to help my friends from the Seaside Chamber of Commerce clean up after all the festivities had concluded.
The chamber of commerce in Seaside carries the same functions as that organization might have in other communities: furthering interests of local business interests and advocating for those businesses.
Chambers of commerce exist in 80 Oregon cities but it’s my perspective and experience that the Seaside Chamber of Commerce has some extremely unique responsibilities. Our local chamber not only furthers business interests and connects those businesses and business owners with each other and local/regional government, it also manages and produces some of the biggest events in our community each year.
Those events include Pouring at the Coast, significant assistance with Hood to Coast and the annual Beach Volleyball Tournament. These events bring thousands of individuals to our community, giving them a small sample of what our amazing region has to offer.
I’ve heard from many people that their first experience in Seaside was for one of these events and, as a result of being here, they likely discovered a great restaurant, hotel, trail or other feature of coastal living. And because of that exposure those individuals come back and frequent our business establishments again and again, with some even choosing to relocate here!
I would offer that few of our guests on the Fourth of July know the collaboration and undertaking of producing a wonderful experience. I’m not even sure that most of our residents know how much work it is either!
The Chamber, partnering with local agencies and the City of Seaside, hosts the Fourth of July parade as well as the fireworks show. Both events are wonderfully managed and are some of the best in our region. Managing those events takes a great deal of coordination, preparation and execution on the day of.
But after the fireworks end, what was already a long day only continues. The crew — consisting of chamber staff, volunteers and City of Seaside employees — breaks down the fencing, scaffolding and pyrotechnic equipment that was necessary to hold a firework show safely.
There are always challenges to work through, unexpected hiccups that can make things a bit bumpy during that process. There’s also the potential challenges of embarrassing behavior demonstrated by some that have partaken perhaps too heavily in the festivities of the Fourth.
As I trudged along the beach that night, I looked up at one point towards the turnaround. There was smoke still rising from the haze of literally hundreds of fires along the beach as well as that firework-sulfur smell that I personally love.
The other volunteers and staff worked around me, communicating on their radios and cell phones at a pace that was dizzying. Up on the prom, City of Seaside employees worked to empty trash and clean up the heaps of trash that had amassed.
In that moment I found great satisfaction in looking at the American Flag that was waving in the light and smoke of our city. I felt profoundly grateful for the country in which I live and this wonderful community, where so many people work hard to help our community and guests celebrate an amazing holiday.
Skyler Archibald is the executive director of the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District and sits on the Seaside Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.