Michigan state parks honor veterans with Fireworks-Free* Fourth of July celebrations

Several Michigan state parks will celebrate a Fireworks-Free Fourth of July to honor veterans who may suffer from PTSI and prefer a quieter holiday celebration./

Several Michigan state parks will celebrate a Fireworks-Free Fourth of July to honor veterans who may suffer from PTSI and prefer a quieter holiday celebration./

This Independence Day weekend (July 3-5), several Michigan state parks will offer Fireworks-Free* Fourth of July celebrations. Located farther away from urban areas that often host large local firework displays, these participating parks are ideal camping locations for veterans and others who prefer a quieter holiday celebration.

The idea for the Fireworks-Free Fourth was the result of a conversation with a veteran, who mentioned how fireworks and other loud noises could bring up distressing memories from military experiences. Fireworks-Free Fourth of July celebrations are made possible by a partnership between the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“While fireworks are a traditional Fourth of July festivity, some veterans and others prefer a calmer celebration with a little less excitement,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “We are pleased to honor our veterans and offer that opportunity in several of our beautiful state parks.”

One in five veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress injury. Sometimes known as post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSI is a condition that can occur after a person has been through a traumatic event. Even when removed from the stressful situation, similar sounds or experiences can trigger intense feelings of fear, stress, anger or sadness.

In honor of Michigan’s 660,000 veterans, including those with PTSI, the following parks this year are celebrating without loud fireworks:

Bewabic State Park (Iron County)

Brighton Recreation Area-Bishop Lake Campground (Livingston County)

Cheboygan State Park (Cheboygan County)

Craig Lake State Park (Baraga County)

Hayes State Park (Lenawee County)

Lake Hudson State Park (Lenawee County)

Leelanau State Park (Leelanau County)

Menominee River State Recreation Area (Dickinson County)

Orchard Beach State Park (Manistee County)

Rifle River Recreation Area (Ogemaw County)

Sleepy Hollow State Park (Clinton County)

Wells State Park (Menominee County)

For camping reservations at these and other parks, visit MIdnrreservations.com (all regular camping fees apply).

“Everyone has their own Fourth of July traditions, and we’re excited to partner with Michigan state parks to offer veterans and their families a way to enjoy the holiday without worry or stress,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “PTSI is a normal reaction to abnormal circumstances and it can affect anyone, and an event like the Fireworks- Free Fourth is a great alternative when celebrating our nation’s freedom.”

Learn more about services for Michigan veterans at MichiganVeterans.com or call 800-MICH-VET (800-642- 4838).

For more information about Fireworks-Free Fourth celebrations, please contact Stephanie Wirtz (DNR) at 989-686-2790 or Lauren DeVol (MVAA) at 517-242-6869. DNR and MVAA encourage Fireworks-Free Fourth campers to join the conversation online and spread the word with the hashtag #FireworksFree4th.

A Recreation Passport grants vehicle access to any Michigan state park, boat launch, state forest campground or non-motorized state trailhead parking. Residents can purchase the Passport for just $11 ($5 for motorcycles) at the time of Michigan license plate renewal through Secretary of State. Forgot to check “YES” during renewal? Residents and nonresidents can purchase a Recreation Passport window sticker during regular business hours at state parks. Learn more about how the Recreation Passport supports state parks and local outdoor recreation opportunities at Michigan.gov/recreationpassport.

Note: Veterans with a 100-percent disabled veteran license plate are exempt from the Recreation Passport requirement.

*Michigan state parks cannot guarantee that no fireworks will be set off near the state parks, but the participating Fireworks-Free Fourth state parks are located far away from urban areas where there are large local fireworks displays. Aerial fireworks (such as Roman candles and bottle rockets) are not allowed in Michigan state parks at any time, but small novelty fireworks (such as fountain fireworks, sparklers and ground spinners) may be set off in the campground. Michigan DNR encourages campers to refrain from setting off fireworks in participating Fireworks-Free Fourth state parks during this special weekend in honor of veterans.

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