By PAUL ZASTROW
Special to the News
The 4th of July celebrations are over, yet not a distant memory. At this time, and as one of the Eyeopeners Lions pyrotechnicians, I would like to thank all that have participated in the celebration of our nation’s birth. From those who put an entry in the parade, or who walked the route and even those who took time out of their day to watch on the sidelines. Patriotism is not measured by one’s being a macho warmonger, but by the small sacrifices and the true celebrations of the heart for the legacy our forebears gave to make the U.S. what it is and could be.
The Eyeopeners Lions Club, one of five active Lions Clubs in Hood River county, is the one that makes the fireworks celebration for the 4th possible. Some 25 years or so ago, we took on the task after the Jaycees group folded. The whole process starts in January, when we sign contracts with the fireworks providers. Then comes the almost endless permits, licenses and other bureaucratic forms necessary to ensure not only safety, but having the event itself. The Eyeopeners have three currently licensed (by the state of Oregon) pyrotechnicians — Paul Zastrow, Larry and Mary Shown. Training is not all that difficult, but is time consuming, and involves assisting at several fireworks shows, going to meetings for training and passing a test. Of course you must not be a felon, terrorist, etc., but few in the public eye are.
This year we came upon an additional twist, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is now part of the nightmare of regulations and bureaucratic forms that must be filled out and filed. Seems that if we are not part of an “elected government agency” we come under greater suspicion of being terrorists. The claim seems that employees of any governmental agency, no matter how small, has fewer regulations to muster than a volunteer group dedicated to serve their fellow humans. But, we prevail, with a storage facility that is rated a type four magazine, and is located sufficiently far from human habitation and roads.
But, I digress afield a bit far. I want to thank the members of the community who supported our efforts with donations to make the fireworks celebration possible. Those who responded generously to our personalized flyer, the businesses who donated from the solicitation in the Chamber of Commerce’s newsletter, those of you in the public who donated due to the ads in the Hood River News and those who donated along the parade route (I was the Lion carrying the “begging bag”), a big thanks. Every year it is touch and go as to whether we can cover our costs or not, and this year, we have yet to add up all the expenses and contributions. But, we surely want to continue to demonstrate our appreciation to the community and nation via the 4th of July fireworks. If you still want to donate, send your money to Lions Fireworks at 3950 Hays Road, Hood River, OR 97031.
Setting up the fireworks at the spit takes several days. Thanks to the Port of Hood River for allowing us to use their land, to the kiteboarders who evacuated the site for a few days, and to the Rental Center who loaned us the use of a Kubota to dig trenches and make necessary improvements to the site. Although the whole event is shot off in less than 30 minutes, the visual and auditory celebration we provide is our attempt to say thanks to the greater Hood River community as well as to the nation for our diverse way of life.
Lastly, as Lions, this is not all we do. We serve the community in various capacities. Not only in our vocational worlds, but also in soliciting funds and assisting in many ways for vision, hearing and diabetes awareness, prevention and assistance. Collectively, the Lions donate to community causes, help parking at various venues, and in general are all about making this a better place to live. I ask that each of you consider becoming a Lion, not just for the fireworks event of the Fourth of July, but to help make our motto a part of your life as well. “We Serve.”
Paul Zastrow is a member of Eyeopeners Lions Club of Hood River.