The bright colors and loud noises increased as darkness fell July 4th in the Bitterroot Valley. Large crowds gathered for the public fireworks displays in Hamilton, Stevensville and Florence. And the private aerial displays were more numerous than ever.

In Hamilton, the Ravalli County Fairgrounds provided the launching pad for Steve Bochea's crew to send off shell after shell, starting about 10:30 p.m. And then came the "finale," when the sky was filled with all the colors of the rainbow ... and a few more. Cheers and applause erupted from the crowd on the grassy lawn at the south end of the fairgrounds.

Bright explosions. (Steve Fullerton, Townsquare Media)