A handful of people invested 48 man hours and $6,000 for a 4th of July fireworks show in the Ramshorn neighborhood. PHOTO COURTESY GREG PARKER

The guy behind the $6,000 fireworks show in Ramshorn

A holiday about community, tradition and celebration

The 4th of July was particularly special for the Ramshorn View Estates neighborhood this year. There was a sign on Sawtooth Drive alerting residents that there would be a fireworks show at nightfall.

The people behind it invested $6,000 and 48 man hours to make it happen.

“It’s just kind of a way for me to let my freak flag fly and invest and do the fireworks because – it is just fun. Get a little wild and crazy – blow some s@#! up and enjoy what we have here. It is just a time to feel and appreciate our independence,” organizer Ryan McDonald said.

The 4th of July has always been a joyful time in celebration of country and community for McDonald. It started with his childhood on the east coast and setting off fireworks with his dad. Then, the family lake house in Maine became the locale of an annual 4th of July shindig. He and his friends always set about providing the show. That was followed by a yearly tradition of setting-off fireworks at his property in Vermont and then a move to Montana.

This year, his third year in Big Sky, he, neighbors Mark and Marsha McKillop, five guys from his team at High Country Restoration and Greg Parker and Sam Brown from Parker Brown Property Management invested time and money – and planned the event for a full year.

Last summer was McDonald’s first opportunity to host a 4th of July party in the Ramshorn neighborhood and this year – he sought to make it bigger. The driveway and garage were full of fireworks as the guys were in the garage setting up before nightfall.

“It seemed like as the day went on the whole neighborhood was getting ready for it. I can’t even remember how many people stopped. People were coming by and thanking us,” he said. He had never before met many of the people who expressed appreciation.

“With everything going on with the pandemic and everything, I think that whether they realize it or not people are feeling pent up – and for everyone to be able to let their hair down for a night was really pretty special,” he said.

The 4th of July allows McDonald and his team a much needed break from hard work. It is the halfway point in their work year; a time for relaxation, celebration and rejuvenation. McDonald figured out that he could get wholesale pricing in Billings after topping the $4,000 mark and dodge the exorbitant mark-up for fireworks. That is what they did – and what they plan to do next year.

“It’s hard to go smaller when we did such a big show this year – we can’t disappoint next year. We might put out some sort of donation box or something at the end of my driveway,” he said.

For McDonald it is not just a celebration of independence or hard work, it is a celebration of the mountain lifestyle that he has embraced and the neighborhood – and neighbors – that have grown to mean so much to him.

“I moved my business out here which I have had for 15 years and it’s going to stay here until I’m not ready to work anymore,” he said. “I love the mountains and rivers and it’s just all about living the mountain life – it’s just cool to be a part of the neighborhood.”

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