Family 4th
Family 4th

Event Information

The Family 4th at Lake Union celebration will not take place in 2013.

Getting There


The Seattle Police Department will implement a street closure plan similar to the last few years, allowing vehicle access only for residents of the neighborhood surrounding Gas Works Park. You should plan to park outside the street closure area on July 4, and walk to Gas Works Park from there. There is limited parking for patrons with permanent disabilities directly across from Gas Works Park. Show your parking placard to the police officer at the edge of the street closure zone for access.

Biking & Walking

All event attendees are encouraged to utilize alternate means of transportation whenever possible. Walking or riding bikes on the Burke Gilman Trail is an easy way to attend the event and minimize post-fireworks traffic congestion. Cyclists may enter through an express access bike entrance on the northwest side of the park to take advantage of the free bike parking area inside.

Transit Options

Buses will be running on a reduced holiday schedule, limiting the number of buses operating, scheduled stops, and amount of guests they can accommodate after the fireworks. All guests arriving to the park by bus are encouraged to prepare an alternate method of return transportation.

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Gas Works Park

Getting In

Gas Works Park opens at noon on July 4 and admission is free. There are two entrance gates to the Family 4th, one at the north end of the parking lot and the other to the south. There will be a security check prior to entering the park and all those entering are subject to search. Prohibited items:

  • Personal Barbecues
  • Alcohol
  • Fireworks
  • Pets
  • Weapons
  • Tent Stakes
  • Glass bottles
  • Knives with blades over 3″ in length

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Daytime Activities

Enjoy a day in the park with kite-making for the kids, special entertainment, food vendors and a beer garden.

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Food & Beverage

You are welcome to bring your own food and beverages into Gas Works Park on the 4th of July. Coolers are allowed into the park (subject to search). However, please remember that personal barbecues and alcoholic beverages brought from outside the park are not permitted during the Family 4th. There are barbecues on the grounds that you may use, and a beer garden will be set up for those of you who are 21+ (don’t forget your ID).

If you choose not to bring your own, a variety of food and beverage vendors will be open for business from noon to 10 PM featuring time-honored holiday menu choices of hot dogs, hamburgers, roasted corn, ice cream, and more.

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Beer Garden

Beer and wine will be available in the lakeside beer garden from noon to 9:30pm. You must be 21+ and you MUST present valid and acceptable ID to enter the beer garden.

Beer Garden rules and regulations:

  • Acceptable forms of identification include: a current state issued driver’s license or ID card, a current Canadian driver’s license or ID card, United States military identification, or valid passport. International drivers licenses are not accepted (excepting Canada).
  • Children, even babes in arms, are not permitted inside the beer garden under any circumstances.
  • Non-alcoholic beverages may enter the beer garden (see below note for exit rules), and are available for sale in the beer garden.
  • NO BEVERAGES MAY BE TAKEN OUT OF THE BEER GARDEN (all liquids, whether brought in or purchased in the beer garden, must be consumed or discarded prior to exiting the garden). Bag checks will be enforced.

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The Family 4th will have a special fireworks viewing area for patrons with disabilities.

The viewing area opens at 6 p.m. and is located on the south side of the play barn.

Lost & Found

All items from the Family 4th Lost & Found are held at One Reel offices for two weeks after the event. To report or recover a lost item, please send a description to info (at)

The Fireworks Show

National Anthem

Performed live in Gas Works Park, the nation anthem always begins the show. Performer(s) will be announced later this summer.

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The Soundtrack

The fireworks are perfectly synchronized to a unique musical score featuring a mix of popular, patriotic and celebration themed songs.

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Radio & TV

The natural amphitheater of Lake Union provides multiple vantage points for you to take in the Family 4th fireworks display. If you’re enjoying the fireworks from a location where you can’t hear our sound system, tune to 97.3 KIRO FM to hear the perfectly synchronized soundtrack for the complete Family 4th experience.

For those of you viewing the show from home, KING 5 will cover the entire fireworks program beginning at 10 PM.

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Our Pyrotechnic Designer

Since the early ’80s, Eric Tucker has been in demand as a master pyrotechnic designer. Tucker designs controlled, precisely-timed fireworks, featuring the highest quality shells from all over the world. Tucker’s fireworks are wide-angled displays fully choreographed to the Family 4th musical score, utilizing cutting-edge digital technology to time the fireworks to the millisecond.

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Fun Fireworks Factoids

How High is Up?

How high up a firework will fly depends on its size. The spherical shells used in the Family 4th at Lake Union range from three inches in diameter (roughly the size of a baseball) to 10 inches (slightly smaller than a basketball). A simple rule of thumb in calculating how high a firework will ascend before it explodes is 100 feet of altitude for every inch of shell diameter, so a 10-inch shell explodes 1,000 feet in the air.

The breadth of the bloom of each firework also depends on the size of the shell. Generally the bloom is about 75 feet across for every inch of shell width, so that same 10-inch shell bursts into a bloom over 750 feet across, about the length of two and a half football fields.

Green Thumb, Arm, Elbow…

In the 17th century, the torch-bearing men who lit fireworks fuses first covered themselves with water-soaked green leaves as protection from mishap and fire. These walking mounds of vegetation were referred to as “green men,” and so some professional pyrotechnicians are still known by this nickname. Nowadays, fireworks are fired off using “electronic matches,” an electrical charge triggered from a large control panel, which allows for greater precision in timing.

Good as Gold

The easiest color to produce in pyrotechnics is thought to be gold — a straight mixture of charcoal and black powder. In fact, gold coloring
was the first visual effect fireworks ever had. However, gold can also be one of the hardest colors to perfect.

Weeping Willows

What makes the weeping willow effect in a firework? Charcoal burns longer than explosive black powder’s other ingredients. It is bits of charcoal — like the glowing embers in your barbecue — that drift slowly down to create the weeping willow effect.

Lighting the Sky

<p >Just what makes flashes of light in the sky on the Fourth of July patriotic? On the first Fourth of July celebration in 1776, Philadelphia patriots lit their windows with candles to let all know where they stood. Those loyal to the English crown kept their panes dark.

Rockets Red Glare

Celebration of the Fourth with rockets and gunpowder dates back to that celebrated day in 1776. Even as John Hancock’s signature dried on the Declaration of Independence, the jubilant report of rifles and small arms fire filled the streets of Philadelphia. That evening 13 rockets were fired into the air above Philadelphia Commons and each warship in the new United States Navy fired 13 cannons to honor the young nation.

Black Powder

The black powder that shoots fireworks into the sky is a simple combination of common chemicals — sulfur, saltpeter and charcoal. Black powder does not gain its full volatility until it is properly processed. An important component in the potency enhancing process is a surprising
ingredient—water. Even when mixed at the proper proportions, black powder will merely sputter and burn when ignited. However, if the powder is thoroughly mixed with water, ground with a heavy stone wheel and left out to dry — watch out!

Hear that Lonesome Whistle

The wailing shrieks of certain “whistler” shells are not caused by air passing over holes in the shell like a flute, but instead are the result of burning sodium salicytate — a chemical added to fireworks to create just such a delightful sound. Interestingly, sodium salicytate is closely
related to aspirin, which can quiet post-Fourth headaches.

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