Light Up My World

How to host or watch a Fourth-of-July fireworks show.

It’s the most wonderful time of year again. Not the one with gingerbread and elves, but the one with hot dogs, reds, whites, blues, and of course, fireworks. Last year, however, the Bozeman City Commission banned the use of fireworks within city limits. However, they did not restrict sparklers 12-inches or less, nor are fireworks restricted in Gallatin County. Big Bad Ass Fireworks (about a mile north of Gallatin Gateway, on the east side of Hwy. 191) has everything you need, from sparklers to firecrackers big enough for a knock-your-socks-off display.

If you or a friend are considering hosting a personal fireworks display outside of city limits, then you’re in the right place. We spoke with Gallatin County Emergency Management, the Bozeman Fire Department, and Last Chance Helitack to get the rundown on fireworks safety. Here’s a nearly-comprehensive “Dos & Don’ts” list for hosting an at-home fireworks display.


  • Only light fireworks in an open area, preferably on cement, gravel, a driveway, or a clear dirt patch.
  • Follow proper instructions as written or illustrated on the packaging.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If the sun’s beating down hard enough that your burgers are grilling on concrete, consider postponing an hour or so.
  • Use fireworks as they're intended to be used. It doesn’t matter how many times your sister taunts you—do not aim the Roman Candle at Uncle Ralph.
  • Have a water source handy. If there are no hoses or rivers nearby, fill up a five-gallon bucket (or two) and keep it close in case of a fire.
  • Call for help before an accidental fire spreads.
  • Try to put out a fire yourself before, during, and after calling for help.
  • Be careful with sparklers. They burn hot enough to cause a fire, and are the cause of about 25 percent of firework-related emergency calls.
  • Maintain a safe distance after lighting fireworks.
  • Soak your fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.


  • Don’t hold fireworks while lighting them—and certainly not after.
  • Don’t set them off near any type of fuel such as dry grass, dry leaves, pine needles, wood piles, trash, or gasoline.
  • Don’t light fireworks on Forest Service land, state land, or Bureau of Land Management land.
  • Don’t use illegal fireworks.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Don’t light fireworks indoors or in any sort of contained space.
  • Don’t re-light malfunctioning fireworks—if at first they don’t succeed, quit before you bust your ass.

Where to Watch
If you don’t want to put on your own show, there are plenty of others planned in the local area. Here’s a quick roundup.

Bozeman – Gallatin County Fairgrounds; July 4, 10pm.

ButteBig Bang Fireworks Show above Montana Tech; July 3, after dark.

Livingston – Park County Fairgrounds; July 1-4, 9pm.

Ennis – Ennis Rodeo Grounds; July 3-4, 7pm.

Red Lodge – East Bench (can be seen all over town); July 4, 10pm.

West Yellowstone – Pioneer Park; July 4, 10:15pm