The community's patriotic spirit came alive that day with many households displaying American flags in their yards or on their houses.
Events in Carl Miller Park launched the city's main Fourth of July festivities as the El-Whyee Business Association hosted its annual Fourth of July Festival in the Park. Bill Bamber, a spokesman for the local business association, reported an increase in participation this year with more than 4,500 people visiting the park throughout the day.
As Mike Bush played guitar on stage at the front of the park, people like Tanner Wing were busy preparing for this year's "Wash and Shine" car show. With contest judges nearby, Wing was putting the finishing touches on his restored 1953 Chevy Bel Air.
With so many people eager to check out his vintage car as well as a matching kiddie car parked next to it, Wing wanted to ensure his car was absolutely free of fingerprints and smudges in hopes of earning top ranking.
In this case, their "obstacle" was a 1984 Buick LeSabre, which was rapidly being compressed beneath the weight of a souped up truck driven by Jeff McCluskey.
"Now it's the color of brown and tire tracks," one person shouted as he caught a glimpse of the car's original body color.
Among the sights and sounds returning to this year's July Fourth events at the park included Don Goodwill's model railroad display. Making a wide loop around the park, children and adults alike watched as a passenger train rolled by. On a spur line were dozens of assorted cars bearing the names of various businesses and local organizations. Throughout the day, Goodwill switched out the locomotives and cars to change the look and feel of the layout.
Nearby, the lure of inflatable children's rides was more than enough of an enticement for youngsters like Tyler Bair. Hopping and rolling through one inflatable castle, he took a bit of a tumble down the exit slide before he jumped back up and scrambled back inside.
Among the day's main highlights was the Little Miss El-Whyee Pageant, which drew dozens of participants, including many preschoolers. As each contest stepped on stage -- a few of them showing signs of stage fright -- the young girls offered a glimpse of their talent. A few chose to sing while others demonstrated their dance moves.
Among this year's contests was Helen Harman, who at just six months old was the youngest to step on stage. With her mother close by, the infant was a little reluctant to show the audience how well she had mastered being able to crawl, choosing instead to scoot across the platform.
According to Jessica Smith, who organizes the event, each of these young girls come away as winners. These contestants received a tiara along with other prizes for participating.
As the festival in the park continued throughout the afternoon, city fire fighters were busy preparing for the evening's fireworks finale. At a cost of approximately $30,000, this year's show featured more than 3,000 shells, making it one the largest in southern Idaho, said Alan Roberts from the city fire department. The show in Mountain Home was surpassed only by a similar fireworks display in Boise.
Having installed the hundreds of launch tubes the night before, firefighters started loading the actual shells at 8 a.m. that day and finished their work nearly 10 hours later. Highlighting different aspects of the upcoming show, Roberts pointed out the battery of one-inch tubes that held 100 shells apiece. Those low-flying fireworks would later serve as the show's opener with additional batteries helping to close out the night's performance.
Nearby, Elsa Guillen from the fire department was placing some of the three- and four-inch shells into another display, which were considerably smaller than the "real crowd pleasers" that measured up to 16 inches in diameter.
Next to her feet were miles of wire that stretched across the patch of dirt and gravel. With pairs of wires connected to each shell, all of the wires were then tied into junction boxes next to each batch of shells. This electronic ignition system was considerably more reliable -- and safer -- than the method firefighters here once used.
"It used to be that we'd light them by hand and duck," said Roberts as he held up one of the 12-inch shells, which alone weighted more than 60 pounds.
This year's fireworks display marked the first time that seating at the city golf course allowed people to get closer to the action. With blankets and chairs positioned in strategic vantage points, seating this year extended to the seventh fairway near the canal that separates the front and back nine holes. In previous years, the crowd line was restricted to the first fairway next to North 18th East Street.
As the show wrapped up that evening, low-flying fireworks during the finale triggered several spot fires near the launch site with fire crews quickly extinguishing the flames. According to interim fire chief Alan Bermensolo, there were no reports of damage.
The Independence Day holiday remained a fairly safe event with the city receiving no emergency calls related to fires triggered by fireworks by local residents. It was the first time in recent years the city hadn't dealt with this issue, Bermensolo said.