This photo by David Joles captures the ambience at Powderhorn Park

This photo by David Joles captures the ambience at Powderhorn Park

 

This reporter has watched son et lumiere at Versailles, and fireworks arcing the national Mall. Our family has seen Fourth of July fireworks in the burbs, fireworks at St. Anthony Falls, and fireworks in the small towns of Wisconsin.
But to me, there’s no better place for Fourth of July pyrotechnics than Powderhorn Park. We used to go every year, until we became cabin people. But this year’s occurrence of the Fourth of July at mid-week persuaded us to remain in town, and we returned to Powderhorn for the first time in eight years. Area businesses cooperating with the Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association and the Minnepaolis Park and Recretion Board sponsor a full day of music before the fuses are lit.
It’s not that fireworks here are bigger or better. This year’s show started promptly at 10 p.m. and concluded in a brisk 15 minutes. We could hear bigger displays echoing from points distant even after we’d returned home.  
Rather, it’s the setting. The park is a huge bowl with what’s called a lake – pond would be more accurate  – at its center. That bowl means that the booms echo repeatedly as the sonic wave hits different sides of the basin at slightly varying intervals. Find the right spot on a hillside – we favor the west side between 33rd and 34th streets – and you can feel  the force of the most powerful blasts pass through  your chest cavity. Sit close to the lake and the skyrockets are mirrored in the surface.
But it’s the people that make Powderhorn as well. The Minneapolis mosaic is on full display as blankets of families and friends  dapple the hillsides. There’s the distant wail of trumpets in the Latino music that filters down from the front-yard barbecues at parkside duplexes . There are amateur pyrotechnicians on the fringes of the crowd who keep park-goers diverted with their own displays as watches inch toward 10 p.m, their smoke serving as a mosquito deterrent. Kids duel with red, white and blue light sabers.
One clue to how riveting a spectacle it is: we didn’t even spot the gorgeous orange disk of the moon rising next to the lake’s island until the last rocket had faded.