‘A Symphony in the Sky’: Fireworks Are Boistfort Family’s Community Gift


Rene Remund grew up in the Boistfort Valley.

The unincorporated, West Lewis County community of a few hundred people is nearly all farmland. There is a river, grange hall, store, fire department, school and houses. That’s it.

The Stanford University campus in Berlin was about as far away from home as Remund could be. 

There, on a New Year’s Eve in the 1960s, he met Sue. They were watching a fireworks show.

By the late 1970s, the couple had married and moved back to the valley. Their Fourth of July celebrations began humbly: a few friends came over, they made strawberry shortcake and set off some “ground bloom flower” fireworks, the kind you can buy at most stands.

“We’ve been doing it every year since. And then we kept adding friends and we’d tell them to bring their friends. Every year it got bigger and bigger and bigger,” Sue Remund said last week.

Somewhere down the line, she said, making that many strawberry shortcakes became a hassle. They switched to a potluck dinner with baseball in the field, kid-friendly fireworks early in the night and more fireworks after dark. 

Then, Rene Remund became licensed as a pyrotechnician. Himself and company orchestrated the very first firework show at Lumen Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. 

Henceforth, Independence Day fireworks shows at the Remunds’ house would be the family’s gift to their community.

Today, people of all political stripes, backgrounds and religions flock to the party. Cars line the road and fill fields. Families set up lawn chairs on Curtis Hill to watch from above. The Declaration of Independence is recited. Then, for one moment, all goes quiet.

Rene Remund is in charge of ordering the fireworks. His daughter, Lindsey Pollock, who is also a Lewis County Commissioner, is the conductor. 

“Lindsey works out the show. The worker bees get her score, is really what it amounts to. The idea is a symphony in the sky,” Rene Remund said. “You have drums, you have piccolos, you have all these different effects that are really a palette of color and sound.”

With a playlist of patriotic songs, Pollock chooses fireworks stanza by stanza. 

At the start, where many hear “My Country ‘Tis of Thee,” the Remunds are playing “God Save the King,” as a symbolic departure of America’s 1776 break from the British crown.

For Eternal Father, Strong to Save, also known as the U.S. Navy Hymn, the chosen recording starts with soft waves. The first line is nearly silent. Pollock fires off low-to-the ground, quiet bursts of color. 

At the next verse, “O Christ! Whose voice the waters heard; And hushed their raging at thy word,” Pollock tries to emulate the explosions of naval warfare.

The final song played is the National Anthem. Before it, horsetail fireworks trail through the sky, Remund said, looking like a slow pour of milk.

“And then, we get to play ball,” Rene Remund said. “‘Home of the brave,’ and all hell breaks loose. Forty percent of the show is all going up in those few seconds, because that is an American fireworks show. … We’ll show you some effects, we hope you like them. And then, we are going to rock your night.”

Pollock has only seen the show on videos.

“For me, it’s listening to it and feeling it,” she said.

Ahead of each Fourth of July, the family and dozens of helpful friends will spend a cumulative 60 to 80 hours of work ordering, organizing, building and wiring their fireworks show. Because they’re highly regulated and dangerous, the industrial-grade fireworks won’t arrive at the Remunds’ home until the morning of July 4. 

Then, it’s a delicate balance of extreme care and swiftness to finish the work before guests arrive for the potluck. 

All together, it’s probably more work than a dozen strawberry shortcakes — but the Remunds don’t intend to let up. 

“To many people, it’s nothing more than things that go ‘boom,’ and have some color. And that’s fine,” Rene Remund said. 

To the family, though, the purpose goes beyond the show’s beauty, the scientific displays, or even the patriotism. When the family’s home was devastated by the Chehalis River flood in 2007, neighbors they barely knew showed up to help.

“We have some very independent people. This is a valley that’s filled with, truly, ‘My nose is the end of your control of me.’ It’s a place that’s different. And, if something happens, something goes wrong, people may show up to help you. Because, the social contract is that if something goes wrong with them, you’re supposed to show up. It’s not everybody … but there’s a fabric here that is, in my experience, different than lots of people in lots of places,” Rene Remund said. “Part of this show is just celebrating this community.” 

The Remunds' home is in Curtis between state Route 6 and the Baw Faw Grange Hall. Fireworks begin shortly after dark. Parking is available in a neighboring field, and the Lewis County Fire District 13 is on duty for the event.