Glenwood Springs fireworks still a ‘no,’ laser light show a go |

Glenwood Springs fireworks still a ‘no,’ laser light show a go

Matthew Bennett
A laser light show at a concert setting. Glenwood Springs will have an outdoor laser show for this year's 4th of July celebration, with Red Mountain as the backdrop.

All eyes were on Councilor Steve Davis when the 4th of July fireworks debate launched, again, at Thursday’s Glenwood Springs City Council meeting.

The question at hand: stick with tradition and launch fireworks this Independence Day, or entertain residents and tourists alike with a laser show?

Council ultimately opted for the light show, essentially upholding a tie vote earlier this month that went in support of City Manager Debra Figueroa’s decision to cancel the fireworks display this year due to the looming wildfire danger.

At the May 3 City Council meeting, which Davis could not attend, Figueroa informed the council of her decision, based upon Glenwood Springs Fire Chief Gary Tillotson’s strong recommendation against it.

At that meeting, Councilor Jonathon Godes observed, “But it rained today,” to which Figueroa replied, “Yes, and what Gary would tell you if he was here, is that would produce more fuels that will get drier as we get closer to summer.”

Mayor Michael Gamba countered, “It’s the moisture content in your fuel basically … is the measure of the fire danger. It’s not how much snow we got in January that measures our fire danger.”

Figueroa said she would have the fireworks ordered, if so directed, but said that wouldn’t be her recommendation.

“I know there is extreme worry across the entire area about it. … Last year we were worried. We had all of our Fire Department in Glenwood, and we were worried we’d have to pull them out to go to New Castle to fight that fire,” she said, referring to a human-caused fire that broke out near the Riverbend Subdivision the day before July 4th.

Mayor Gamba and Councilors Shelley Kaup and Todd Leahy voted at that meeting in favor of overriding Figueroa’s decision, while Councilors Godes, Rick Voorhees and Jim Ingraham sided with the city manager. A tie goes as a no vote.

In a previous interview, Tillotson said, “I know that business owners are not thrilled about it … I don’t make that recommendation lightly.”

According to a staff report, as of now, surrounding communities like New Castle and Snowmass will go forth with fireworks, but Aspen and Carbondale, which hasn’t had a July 4th fireworks display for several years, will not.

In recent years, Glenwood Springs shot off smaller-scale fireworks, but even those carried a $20,000 price tag and lasted 10 minutes. The planned laser light show would cost $14,619, last 15 minutes, and would see projection on Red Mountain to a choreographed mix of “family-friendly” music, according to the suggestion of Parks and Recreation Director Brian Smith.

The motion to approved the laser light show passed unanimously.

The vendor, Nexus, has in the past has worked with venues like Red Rocks and music festivals such as Coachella.

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