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For Chamberlains, fireworks are family affair

Tigard's annual Fourth of July celebration at Tigard High School is handled by three generations of fireworks fans


Joe Chamberlain talks with The Times in 2011. His son and grandson have since taken over Tigard's longtime fireworks show, which began in his backyard in the 1970sOn Friday night, as kids enjoy the clowns, live music and concessions at Tigard High School, the Chamberlain boys will be getting ready for the show.

Joe, 89, John, 59, and Joseph, 19, are three generations of fireworks fans who have been putting on Tigard’s annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July celebration for decades.

It’s a family tradition that Joe started back in the 1970s when the family lived along Southwest Walnut Street.

Joe Chamberlain started launching fireworks from his backyard in Tigard after years of visiting nearby fireworks shows as Alpenrose Dairy.

“It would take forever to get home, there were so many cars,” he said.

Joe and then-14-year-old John began firing fireworks from his backyard over a nearby pond.

“It started just with the family, but grew into the rest of the neighborhood,” John Chamberlain said. “Everybody started counting on it, and planning their holiday around it.”

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Joe Chamberlain, 89, John Chamberlain, 59, and Joseph Chamberlain, 19, show off one of the large fireworks launchers they use to send fireworks hundreds of feet into the air at Tigard High School's annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July CelebrationAfter a few years, cars began to clog the streets as families stopped by to enjoy the show.

“It’s something that people really pay attention to,” Joe Chamberlain said.

The celebration grew so big that it moved to Tigard High School where it became the city’s preeminent Independence Day show.

“I have always said that if you live someplace, you should give something back to the community,” Joe Chamberlain said. “It’s not all take, you have to give. And I taught my kids that.”

Friday’s fireworks display includes about 300 rounds of fireworks, John said. Each of the rounds are about six inches in diameter, said John, the perfect size to clear the tree line for viewing at Tigard High School.

John said that the fireworks show has stayed popular with families because of its odl fashioned feel.

“It’s a good formula,” John said. “We don’t want to mess with it.”

At 19, John’s son Joseph is the next in line to take over the annual tradition.

“I’ve been helping out at the fireworks show for as long as I can remember,” he said.

Until he turned 18, he was relegated to clean-up duty after the show, but last year helped his father loading fireworks and tending to the magazines.

The fireworks are fired from Cook Park, behind Tigard High School, Joseph said. Neither he nor his father have ever been able to see the show they’ve been putting on for decades.

John said he has no plans to retire, yet.

“Who wouldn’t want to light fireworks?” John said. “You’d have to be crazy to turn this down.”

You're invited!

What: Old Fashioned 4th of July Celebration

Where: Tigard High School, 9000 S.W. Durham Road

When: Friday, July 4. Gates open at 6 p.m. with fireworks at dusk

How much: Free

No alcohol, personal fireworks or smoking allowed.



Local Weather

Cloudy

65°F

Tigard

Cloudy

Humidity: 68%

Wind: 6 mph

  • 22 Sep 2014

    Mostly Cloudy 79°F 60°F

  • 23 Sep 2014

    Rain 72°F 61°F