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Holiday weekend had its problems


A locust tree lies across Fiddle Creek at near the foot bridge entrance to Cole Park at the end of Stevens Ave. in Coulee Dam, where it fell on July 4, causing a power outage and cancelling the Laser Light Show for a town full of visitors. A power pole in the background carries three main power lines against which branches likely brushed as they fell, causing the mishap. - Scott Hunter photo

It wasn't the smoothest sailing for festival planners over this Independence Day weekend.

Problems started with short notice from Grant County Health District authorities that a water park for kids couldn't happen the way it was planned.

Smaller complications, such as reportedly rude political protesters and a lost child (she was found) were wedged between that announcement and the final blow - a power outage that cancelled the Laser Light Show during the biggest festival of the year.

Officials in Coulee Dam, which operates the electric utility supplying the power to the Bureau of Reclamation's Visitor Center at Grand Coulee Dam, believe the cause was a tree that fell at the end of Stevens Ave. at dusk.

That happens to be where Councilmember Gayle Swagerty lives. She was outside her home when she heard the crack of breaking limbs, saw a bright flash of light and loud boom when the lights went out all over town.

In daylight the next day, the town's crew foreman, Mike Steffens, agreed it appeared the big locust tree had fallen across Fiddle Creek, struck the three main lines on the pole and caused the outage, which lasted past the onset of darkness.

The park below the Visitor Center was full of people sitting in darkness expecting the laser show to start. Instead the fireworks that had been scheduled for after the lasers took their place in the lineup, prompting complaints from people who had traveled to see both.

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