Our ceremonial day of Independence from the British Empire in 1776 is a great reason to celebrate for all Americans alike. On this federal holiday, Americans typically celebrate by having a customary barbecue with family and friends or head to a nearby lake for some good times on the water (with or without some good ole’ American beer in hand). Of course, there are plenty of explosive fireworks involved as well because it just wouldn’t be American if we didn’t! Fireworks on the 4th of July are as American as apple pie and sweet tea on, well,….. every other day of the year. We enjoy a good celebration here, and you should too!

BUT there are always some important things to consider when you are out having a blast on that special night.

If you know your neighbor or family member nearby has PTSD or has endured trauma on the battle field, please be mindful of how it may affect them. Many soldiers that have returned from war are easily startled by loud bangs and booms. You would be too if it were you. They want the same fun that you do, and they also want to be able to enjoy the show. After all, the fireworks shows are for them and the sacrifices they have made to bring us freedom and independence!

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Here are some tips on how to help out:

  • Please be courteous with where you set off fireworks. Try to keep them at a safe distance from neighboring houses, especially if you know a combat veteran lives there.
  • Combat veterans know that the 4th of July will be the main day for fireworks, and they are prepared for that, but if you want to set of fireworks in the days or weeks prior or post July 4th, try to inform your neighbors with PTSD so they are prepared.
  • If you have extra sets of earplugs, they could make a world of difference for someone with PTSD.
  • Lastly, this website here: Military With PTSD provides combat veterans with free signs they can display so others know to be courteous with fireworks around them. Although there is a waiting list, the concept is honorable. You could also create basic sign with cardboard or card stock if necessary.

We show veterans respect, after all, they are the reason we get to celebrate this holiday. Please be courteous and allow them to enjoy the holiday with us!

Did you know more pets run away or get lost on 4th of July than any other day?

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That’s right, our cranky cats just don’t give a crap about our National Independence and our pet pups rather not celebrate with powder filled explosives and bright bangs. I know, we don’t get it either!!

If your dogs are anything like mine, they will likely be hiding under your bed or remain somewhat attached to your leg like an extra appendage during the festivities. Even so, there are a few things we can do to keep our pets as comfortable and safe as possible during the Prickly Pear Fireworks show:

  • Let them stay inside when you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
  • Keep your doors and windows closed. We all know that our pet’s hearing is far more sensitive than ours and keeping everything closed up will help keep out some of the noise. Closing your doors and windows will also keep your pets from running off if they get scared.
  • Provide them a comfortable space. Mine typically hide under my bed when the kids are on the loose. I don’t blame them. If I fit, I would probably be hiding under there too!
  • Move their beds, food, and water to the place where they feel most comfortable. If they have a favorite toy or lovey, make sure they have it with them in their space.
  • A new juicy bone or catnip toy might help keep them distracted if they are scared.
  • Make sure they have updated tags or a microchip with your most current address and phone number.
  • Lastly, get them extra love and attention!

If you happen to find a misguided pet after the big show, please do your best to find the owner. The classified pages on Facebook or in the newspaper are the best bet to return lost pets to their owners. If you have tried everything you can to locate the owner and are unsuccessful, please contact the Lewis and Clark Humane Society as people usually check there for their lost pets.

Thanks for helping out ALL of the members of our community!


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Here is a little bit of history of the Prickly Pear Fireworks Show:

The East Helena Fireworks show has been a yearly spectacle ever since the VFW Post 10010 began funding the project in 1957. They provided the show for the veterans and their families for many, many years. People would travel miles and miles to see the show. Sadly, the funding put more and more stress on the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10010 and they felt they needed to spend the funding on providing vets other necessities, rightly so. They announced they would be unable to continue to provide the funding for the show.

Since that time, in 2010, Karl Meagher took on the task of raising funding from the community residents and businesses to continue on the show with his non-profit organization, Prickly Pear Fireworks. With the help of Richard MacDonald, Karl was able to continue the fireworks show every year for 7 years! They were able to raise nearly $20,000 every year to meet the rising costs of fireworks. Unfortunately, as the cost of fireworks continued to climb, the funding provided less and less of a show. Not being able to afford to close the gap in the declining amounts of funding, Karl announced that it would be unlikely he could continue on the show into 2017.

When we heard that the only fireworks show for East Helena was to be discontinued, we were in shock! We have watched the Prickly Pear Fireworks show for as long as any of us can remember!

So, the display needed a revival of sorts, a new spin, and much more funding.

That is where Shellie jumped up and said “I’m In!!!”

The show has been displayed since before Shellie was born! She remembers watching it since she was just a little kid, and doesn’t recall missing it EVER! She smiles when she gets to watch her grandchildren “ooh” and “ahh” at the extravaganza every year, and is delighted when they say “Oooh, that one was AWESOME!!!” or “Did you see that one, Grandma!?!?” They just love the show, and so does she. Being the kind-hearted person she is, she was not willing to give up on the Prickly Pear Fireworks show! She wants to continue this tradition for the community because she truly cares about making a difference. She cares about the veterans and feels that Independence Day should be provided for them to show them their sacrifices are not unrecognized or disregarded.  As a small business owner, Shellie hopes that she can rally all the East Helena and Helena businesses, organizations, groups, and families together to make this happen.

Shellie is putting a lot on the table to continue to provide this famed 4th of July tradition for East Helena, Helena, and the surrounding areas. All she is asking in return is for a little bit of help to keep this show as awesome as ever. Nobody should have to travel to Butte, Missoula, or Bozeman to get to see a good fireworks show. With your help, we can make the Capital City known for having a great Independence Day show! Together, we can take this community highlight and make it even greater this year, and every year following.

Please donate to help Shellie’s Country Cafe raise enough money to keep this show going!

Thank you so much for your contribution.