Sensory-friendly laser show to take place on July 4, regular fireworks show on July 3

From left, members of the Marquette Area Fourth of July Celebration Committee Geno Angeli, Robert Anderson, Lauren Cahtinen and Chris Durley announce this year’s celebration events and dates. For the first time, this year’s celebrations will include a sensory-friendly laser light show on July 4. (Journal photo by Dreyma Beronja)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette Area Fourth of July Celebration Committee has announced its upcoming slate of events for the Fourth of July.

This year’s celebration will include the Marquette County Exchange Club’s Food Fest, the Kiwanis Club of Marquette Parade, fireworks and for the first time, a sensory-friendly laser light show.

The idea was first brought up seven years ago by former committee member Anna Dravland. Dravland suffered from a disabling head injury five years ago that made it impossible for her to tolerate fireworks.

“I’ve been pushing it (sensory-friendly light show) and I really truly believe it’s going to be a really unique experience,” Dravland said. “This is something that you can’t see anywhere else in the country, especially with the Ore Dock being so distinct.”

The committee has been working with Fresh Coast Light Lab to design the Fourth of July Laser Light Show. The event will begin at dusk on July 4 on the Lower Harbor Ore Dock.

“There’s a vast number of people that can’t celebrate those festivities because of the booms and sensory (issues),” Marquette Area Fourth of July Celebration Committee Fundraising Chair Chris Durley said. “We have veterans, people with PTSD and people with traumatic injuries.”

Dravland said she hopes to see more sensory-friendly events and activities in the future.

“It takes nothing away from the joy of others,” Dravland said. “My hope is that people will refrain from blowing up fireworks for that hour or so, so that people like me can go out and enjoy the light show.”

In addition to the sensory-friendly light show, the Marquette County Exchange Club’s Food Fest will run from July 2-4 in Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

This year’s parade will have double the number of bands, said Robert Anderson with the Kiwanis Club of Marquette.

“We found out that the people who come to the parade and the kids love the music and bands,” Anderson said. “So we are inviting all the bands in the county, not just Marquette.”

The theme for this year’s parade will be “Stars and Stripes Forever” and will feature 120 floats.

“We’ve been doing this a long time,” Anderson said. “It’s been maybe 25 years except for one year because of COVID and it’s going to be very exciting.”

Anderson said the Kiwanis Club plans to invite Nheena Ittner to be this year’s parade marshal to thank her for her many years of service and retirement from her position as former director of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.

This year’s fireworks will be held on July 3 at Lower Harbor with a custom laser light show to go along with the fireworks.

The committee’s website for this year’s celebration is expected to go live by mid-April. For the time being, updates and additional information can be found on the committee’s Facebook page at facebook.com/mqtfourth.


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