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Opportunities abound for Independence fun
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Opportunities abound for Independence fun

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Fireworks and fun are plentiful in western Montana this Fourth of July. From Whitefish to Hamilton, here's an area guide for celebrating America's independence.

Missoula: Spend the day at Fort Missoula for the Historical Museum's annual Independence Day extravaganza from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The celebration promises a variety of entertainment, including live music, a Civil War re-enactment and a speech by Capt. William Clark.

But before the celebration begins, feast on a chuck wagon breakfast from 8-11 a.m. The breakfast is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and proceeds - it's $3 for adults and $2 for children - will go to the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula.

The Old West Gunslingers will kick off the entertainment at 11 a.m. and perform again at 3 p.m. Ritchie Doyle, playing Capt. William Clark, will deliver the welcoming address at 1 p.m.

For those craving live music, Cash for Junkers is performing at 2 and 4 p.m. For gunshots and big bangs, Battery A's Civil War demonstration will be at 2 p.m.

Children's entertainment includes a leg race, sack race and egg toss, and parents can enjoy the display of antique military engines, military vehicles and muskets.

The entry fee is $2 for adults and $1 for students. This includes parking and admission into the museum.

After the celebration at Fort Missoula, head to Southgate Mall for its annual celebration and fireworks show from 9:15 p.m. to 11 p.m.

The Silver Tip Skydivers will begin the evening with a jump onto the mall's parking lot, followed by a helicopter landing.

The invocation will be given by Col. Ed Sperry, a retired member of the U.S. Air Force, followed by the presentation of colors and the National Anthem.

At 9:30 p.m., there will be a performance by Missoula City Band, which will lead the crowd into the colorful fireworks show.

Arlee: Line up along Morigeau Street for the parade at noon. Then compete in a best western and best American Indian apparel contest. There will be both a novelty/humorous category and a patriotic category. The Arlee Powwow also is going on.

Bigfork: Rock down to Electric Avenue in Bigfork for the parade at noon. Following the Parade will be a carnival in Sliter Park until 3 p.m. Fireworks will paint the sky at dusk at the Bigfork chapel.

Hamilton: The Ravalli County Fairgrounds is the site of a fireworks show at dusk.

Hot Springs: Sing along with Andrea Mitchell and Jim Stauffer who are performing country and rock favorites on the outdoor stage at 1 p.m. Bring an instrument and join in with local musicians from 1-10 p.m. There's also a barbecue and other events.

Kalispell: It's standing room only for the Fourth of July Parade at 10 a.m. on Main Street.

Polson: The celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. with the parade's float judging. This year's theme is "Wild West." After the winner is awarded, the parade is at noon. Fireworks will explode over Flathead Lake from Riverfront Park.

Ronan: Walk out the front door and gaze for fireworks at dusk. The display can be seen from anywhere in town.

Seeley Lake: People can sleep in and still catch this parade at 2 p.m. After the parade, enjoy the local duck race. Fireworks will boom over the lake at 10:30 p.m.

Stevensville: Clark Days on Main Street runs from July 4-7, so get dressed up as your favorite expedition character and explore the sights. On July 4, there is an antique gallery from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The parade is at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed with a potluck Pig-Nic at 1 p.m. Bring a dish!

Whitefish: Grab the kids and head to City Beach at Whitefish Lake for a carnival and games from 5-8 p.m. Enjoy the live music from 7-11 p.m., and fireworks over the lake will follow.

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