IDAHO FALLS — A record-breaking number of people watched the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration fireworks show at Snake River Landing Wednesday night.
Officials estimate over 200,000 spectators witnessed the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi River. Last year, Idaho Falls Police estimated 170,000 people viewed the 31-minute show along the banks of the Snake River.
“This year, there were so many people we simply couldn’t count. Compared to last year, we estimate that at least 20 percent more people attended,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson said in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com.
In addition to the massive number of people viewing fireworks from Snake River Landing, thousands more watched from outside the 450-acre property. Many spectators commented that traffic following the fireworks seemed much smoother than in years past and there weren’t any reports of major incidents.
“We want to commend the team at Ball Ventures and Snake River Landing for creating a very effective traffic plan,” Johnson said. “Execution of the traffic plan was the key to getting so many people out of one area quickly and efficiently.”
Before the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration, tens of thousands attended the Mountain View Hospital Riverfest at Snake River Landing. Local bands played live music, more than 30 vendors sold food, and horseback rides, bounce houses
“Ball Ventures and Snake River Landing are proud to have had the honor of hosting the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration and Riverfest,” said Cortney Liddiard, CEO of Ball Ventures. “It is a pleasure to bring together well over 100,000 people on our property in honor of our great nation. I’d like to thank all who made the event possible, especially our employees who spent countless hours to make this year’s event a success.”
This year marked the 26th year of the Melaleuca Freedom Celebration. CEO Frank VanderSloot and his wife, Belinda, hosted a dinner at the Waterfront at Snake River Landing. Under the direction of Eric Wenstrom, the Freedom Symphony played patriotic and popular music leading up to the fireworks.
Local and state dignitaries were in attendance, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Brad Little and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan. Both candidates sat at VanderSloot’s table, along with Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper and others.
“I believe that last night our citizens demonstrated that, regardless of what is happening in other parts of the nation, patriotism is alive and well in southeast Idaho. I am so thrilled with that,” VanderSloot said.