Conditions making Aspen fireworks unlikely for the Fourth

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

The annual Fourth of July fireworks show in Aspen and Snowmass Village are looking less and less likely this year.

“We are exploring other options besides fireworks this year,” Brittany Zanin, special events manager for the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, said Friday.

No official decision about the fireworks has been made yet, she said. However, Zanin confirmed that ACRA has not yet submitted a permit application for the fireworks show, which is usually done at least 30 days before the event.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, who will make the final fireworks call, said Friday that he’s heard nothing official yet, though the lack of a permit is telling.

“I’ve not seen a permit,” he said, “so I assumed there will be no fireworks.”

Pitkin County is currently not under fire restrictions, though that could change if conditions continue to be hot and dry.

“Snowmass is planning a community Fourth of July celebration but making alternatives because chances are we won’t have fireworks,” Snowmass Tourism director Rose Abello said Friday.

Aspen Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Parker Lathrop said that while Pitkin County has not yet imposed fire restrictions, fuel moisture levels are lining up with those recorded in 2012, one of the driest summers in recent memory (a red flag warning has been issued for Sunday in the Roaring Fork Valley).

“When I’ve talked to (ACRA), they were looking at other options,” Lathrop said.

Zanin said the chamber is indeed looking at other ways to celebrate the Fourth, though the organization was not ready Friday to announce anything yet. ACRA doesn’t want to find itself in the same position as last year, when the organization spent money on fireworks only to have fire restrictions kick in just before the Fourth, she said.

That left the chamber scrambling for a backup plan, Zanin said. And while ACRA was able to use those fireworks for Winterskol, officials wanted “a well-thought out alternative (this year) that everyone can enjoy,” she said.

ACRA and the Aspen Volunteer Fire Department previously announced plans to team-up for a Fourth of July block party from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. that will include a free concert and other family activities. Zanin said ACRA will announce other plans as soon as they are finalized.

Other events in Aspen during the day will include a morning charity run, the annual Fourth of July parade through downtown and free performances with the Aspen Music Festival.

Scott Thompson, fire chief for Snowmass and Basalt, also expects the Snowmass show to be canceled.

“It’s most likely they will cancel the fireworks and use the budget for New Year’s,” he said.

Conditions are even drier downvalley in Basalt, where fuel moisture levels “are as low as they’ve ever been recorded,” Thompson said Friday.

The Roaring Fork Club has canceled a planned fireworks display and has scheduled a laser show instead, he said.

Glenwood Springs, which is already under fire restrictions through Garfield County, has announced that it will forego the traditional fireworks in favor of a laser light show.

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