From our sister site The SeaTac Blog:

By Scott Schaefer

SeaTac residents hoping to celebrate Independence Day with a traditional fireworks display at Angle Lake may be disappointed this year, as the city has decided they will be replacing it with a drone light show due to a legal interpretation of a 1932 Washington State Supreme Court ruling.

John Lucas, a resident who lives near Angle Lake, filed a complaint with the city, citing a state law concerning “non-navigable” lakes. The 1932 ruling “Snively vs. State,” and 1956 ruling “Snively v. Jaber” determined that Angle Lake falls under this category. Court documents state that legal ownership of non-navigable lakes extends to the center of the waterbody for waterfront property owners, according to the ruling. This, in turn, grants them certain usage rights.

Lucas argued that events like hydroplane races – which require closing off sections of the lake – infringe on property owners’ rights (NOTE: Lucas’ complaint did not include the City’s fireworks displays; the City on its own made an expansive interpretation of the 1956 Court Case, and canceled the fireworks).

SeaTac City Attorney Mary Bartolo concurred with this interpretation, fearing potential litigation, and the City canceled numerous lake-based events, including the hydroplane races, 4th of July fireworks displays and others.

Lucas emphasized that – when learning of the City’s decision – he “argued that the fireworks were allowable as they do not ‘unreasonably’ affect the other owners.”

While the full impact of this decision remains unclear, questions have arisen regarding other events like swimming races and sailboat regattas.

SeaTac Parks and Recreation is moving forward with a drone light show as an alternative at Angle Lake on the 4th of July. The City Council was expected to vote on approving funds for the show during their Tuesday (Mar. 25, 2024) meeting. The drone show, estimated to cost $40,000, would feature 200 drones. In comparison, the City of Des Moines held a 100-drone show for their 2023 4th of July event, which cost $90,000.

The decision to cancel the fireworks has been met with mixed reactions. Some residents, like Lucas and leaders of the Angle Lake Manor Club, had previously voiced their opposition to noise generated by hydroplane races, usually held in September.

Many others are disappointed that the traditional fireworks display – as well as other popular lake-based events like hydro races, kayak and paddle board races and even water rescue practices by Puget Sound Fire – may no longer take place.

Around 8,000 people attended last year’s 4th of July fireworks show at Angle Lake, the City said.

The SeaTac City Council was expected to vote Tuesday night, Mar. 26, 2024 on approving the proposed $40,000 drone light show.

Despite the setback, there may still be fireworks over Angle Lake this year, as the Angle Lake Shore Club is reportedly sponsoring a private, perhaps final, fireworks display. The details and permit for this display are still being finalized.

Online Petition to Save Fireworks Started

UPDATE: An online petition to save the Angle Lake 4th of July Fireworks has been started: