Glenwood plans to revive July 4 celebration — with fireworks |

Glenwood plans to revive July 4 celebration — with fireworks

In this 2008 photo, Mary Ellen Denomy of Battlement Mesa plays the Star Spangled Banner with the Symphony in the Valley at Two Rivers Park to kick off Glenwood Springs' Fourth of July evening festivities.
Post Independent file |

It may only be the last week of March, but some city of Glenwood Springs officials and community leaders already are thinking about summer and July Fourth celebrations.

Planning is under way for a return of some formal recognition of the nation’s birthday in Glenwood Springs, including fireworks, after a several-year hiatus for any such town festivities.

“It’s all pretty preliminary now, but it does look like things are coming together,” said City Councilwoman Kathryn Trauger, who is helping to organize things.

“It’s been kind of sad for a town our size not to recognize the day in some way,” she said. “The idea is to have a family-friendly community event that honors the U.S. and those who have served to protect our freedoms.”

In addition to the Lion’s Club FireKracker 4K foot race that morning, Trauger said late-afternoon or evening events could include games and a community picnic in Two Rivers Park, followed by patriotic music from the Symphony in the Valley and a low profile-type fireworks display behind the band shell.

A previous tradition — before funding challenges, logistics and high fire danger during some summers put the kibosh on the fireworks display — involved the symphony playing a medley of music in sync with the fireworks.

“The symphony is very interested in coming back and playing for the Fourth of July again,” said longtime Symphony in the Valley associate Dave Merritt.

“It would be nice to have more activities going on here in Glenwood that would give locals a reason to stay in town and have some fun, and for tourists to stay an extra night,” Merritt said.

July 4 this year falls on a Monday, rounding out a three-day holiday weekend.

“I remember as a kid going to Strawberry (Sayre) Park and watching the fireworks,” Trauger said. “I distinctly remember lying on the ground, watching the fireworks.”

In later years, the fireworks were moved to Two Rivers Park for safety reasons, and downtown merchants would often have sidewalk sales to lure shoppers.

Budget constraints forced the city to temporarily discontinue the traditional July 4 fireworks display in 2011 and 2012. Then, in 2013, the city had a vendor lined up to stage the display, but the high fire danger that summer forced the decision to postpone the fireworks.

City Council at the time chose to instead do the fireworks display during the February Ski Spree event. The new tradition stuck until this year, when Trauger and other council members decided it was time to resurrect the Fourth of July festivities.

One obstacle regarding fireworks has been that, with new development in the vicinity of Two Rivers Park, the city no longer has a safe place to stage a conventional fireworks display during the summer.

That led Fire Chief Gary Tillotson to suggest a low-profile display instead, similar to the one the Hotel Colorado puts on for its annual Christmas holiday lighting celebration the day after Thanksgiving.

“We would still have to have safeguards in place with the summer fire danger,” Trauger said, adding that the low-level display would not be visible from other parts of town.

“What we want to do is encourage people to come out to the park and celebrate,” she said.

One big question remains funding. The city initially budgeted $20,000 for fireworks this year, which went on as planned during Ski Spree. An additional $20,000 was approved to be spent from tourism reserve funds for the 4th of July fireworks, at the recommendation of the city’s Tourism Promotion Board.

The city may be able to kick loose some additional money to help with the other events, but assistance will also need to come from private businesses and other organizations, Trauger said.

“We would really like this to be a coordinated effort between the public and private sector,” she said. “It is something that merchants and residents have asked for since we stopped doing it.

“We’re just trying to do our part to help make that happen,” she said of the city’s involvement. “We will also need some volunteers, but mostly we just want people to save the date at this point.”

Representatives from the Lions Club, the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts and the Downtown Market have also been part of the early discussions. The city is seeking outside promotional support for the day’s events as well.

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