Butte, Mont. Celebrates Evel Knievel's Life With Fireworks Before His Funeral Monday

Fireworks exploded over this mining town Sunday as the body of motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel arrived for a funeral expected to draw thousands.

Knievel will be remembered in a service Monday at the Butte Civic Center as his hometown celebrates the life of the legendary stuntman who sped motorcycles over the Butte mine dumps as a boy.

Years later, spectacular and sometimes near-fatal stunts made Knievel an international icon who believed it was better to try and fail than to not try at all.

Knievel died Nov. 30 in Clearwater, Fla., after years of failing health. He was 69.

The annual Evel Knievel Days festival draws tens of thousands to the city. Knievel frequently attended the event, though as a frail man who'd lived through too many motorcycle crashes and other ordeals, including a liver transplant.

On Monday, a public viewing will be followed by a service with the Rev. Robert H. Schuller of California's Crystal Cathedral officiating. Afterward, a funeral procession will make its way through town, along a six-mile loop known as Evel Knievel Way.

Burial at Mountain View Cemetery will be private.

Friends and family scurried Sunday to prepare the civic center, Butte's largest indoor venue.

"There's a right way, there's a wrong way and there's Evel's way," longtime friend Bill Rundle said. "You do it Evel's way."