COEUR d'ALENE - It's no secret that the Fourth of July is one of the busiest days of the year in downtown Coeur d'Alene.
The celebration annually attracts approximately 30,000 people to the Lake City.
So just where the heck are they all supposed to park?
"The best places to park are at any city lot, including McEuen, or any of the county courthouse lots," said Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce President Steve Wilson.
He explained that all-day event parking in any city or county lot will cost $15, but half of those parking fees will support the fireworks show.
"By parking in any city lot, you are helping contribute to the community fireworks fund," Wilson said.
The McEuen parking facility has 425 spaces and Memorial Field has approximately 150 spaces. Parking will also be available at Independence Point, which has 89 spaces, and the Museum of North Idaho, where 107 spots can be found.
Wilson advised celebration-goers to stake their claims early, "otherwise you'll be doing like Ironman and walking 15 blocks in the heat to get down."
Terry Cooper, manager of the Coeur d'Alene Downtown Association, said one of the best ways to get into downtown from the north is Third Street, which leads right to the McEuen Park parking lot and structure.
"That way you avoid Northwest Boulevard," Cooper said. "Third is not used that much and it's great access into downtown."
Cooper recommended people scope out the sizeable parking lots south of Coeur d'Alene City Hall or the lot between Third and Fourth streets on Coeur d'Alene Avenue. The lot at Fourth and Coeur d'Alene has 53 spaces.
"All of that is great parking," he said.
In previous years, Cooper said people have parked as far north as Harrison Avenue and walked to the festivities. Free parking can be found in midtown and throughout residential areas, but each spot is first-come, first-served.
"They would want to be early and patient," Cooper said. "Whenever you bring in 30,000 people for a long day of parades and fireworks, it's a huge impact to the city area, so therefore it's going to take a little time to find those special parking spots."
Lots on the North Idaho College campus will be available for Fourth of July parking as well, but for the first time, NIC will be charging a small fee per vehicle. While the $5 fee will help offset overhead costs, NIC is following suit with the city and county and donating a portion of the proceeds to the chamber for the fireworks display.
"We very much value our relationship with the patrons who attend Fourth of July activities and park on our campus each and every year," said NIC Vice President for Student Services Graydon Stanley, who oversees campus events and conferencing at NIC. "But the college also recognizes the need to provide a safe environment for visitors to campus and to mitigate risks to the college in hosting crowds and events of this size. And in order to provide proper support, NIC has to provide parking services, security and personnel."
Lots A, B and C on the north side of campus will not require a parking fee. The map can be viewed at www.nic.edu/parking. NIC is going to sweeten the deal by thanking those who choose to park on campus with a chance to win a 2016 Really BIG Raffle ticket, valued at $100, with their parking stub. The tickets are sold out for this year's raffle.
"Plan ahead and be early," Cooper said.
Bob Haller checks in to pay for parking at Independence Point Wednesday afternoon in Coeur d’Alene. The parking lot at Independence Point is a popular parking place for people taking part in festivities during fourth of July.