Winter fireworks set this year; city eyes a July 4 event |

Winter fireworks set this year; city eyes a July 4 event

Fireworks over Glenwood Springs on Feb. 7, 2015, celebrated the end of Sunlight Mountain Resort's Ski Spree.
Colleen O’Neil/Post Independent |

The city of Glenwood Springs will go ahead with funding a fireworks display as part of the annual Sunlight Ski Spree celebration next month, as it has for the past two years.

But City Council on Thursday night offered no guarantees for the wintertime display next year.

That’s because the city wants to refocus its attention on bringing back some type of city-sponsored Fourth of July celebration, with or without fireworks, starting as soon as this summer.

“I’d like to see us do something on our nation’s birthday,” Councilman Todd Leahy said. “We’ve taken a lot of heat for not having anything planned. … It’s been a disappointment for a lot of people, me included.”

Councilor Kathryn Trauger, who has also pushed to have some type of Fourth of July celebration in Glenwood Springs, agreed.

“I think we as a city need to figure out something, whether it involves fireworks or not,” she said. “We need to have something for our business community, and the community in general.”

Budget constraints forced the city to discontinue the traditional July 4 fireworks display in 2011 and 2012.

In 2013, the city had a vendor lined up to put on the display, but the high fire danger that summer forced the decision to postpone the fireworks.

Council at the time chose Ski Spree over New Year’s Eve as an alternative for the fireworks display. The new tradition took hold, but not without some questions every time Fourth of July rolls around.

Council agreed on a 5-1 vote Thursday, with Trauger opposed, to arrange with a vendor to put on a fireworks display in downtown Glenwood Springs as part of the Feb. 6 Ski Spree celebration.

The city had already budgeted the $20,000 to pay for fireworks this year with the idea that it would be in conjunction with Ski Spree weekend. Event sponsor Sunlight Mountain Resort has already been advertising fireworks in its promotional efforts.

“It’s a little late in the game, and we would be remiss at this point to cut that,” Councilman Stephen Bershenyi said, adding the city should not be expected to pay for the wintertime display next year.

He agreed with the rest of council, though, that the city should work with community groups to come up with a Fourth of July celebration of some sort. That still may or may not include fireworks.

Fire Chief Gary Tillotson said that staging a conventional fireworks display in Glenwood Springs has become difficult due to geologic constraints and development in areas that used to serve as a launch point for the fireworks.

The wintertime display was a good option, Tillotson said, because the fireworks can be launched from the circle drive next to the boat ramp in Two Rivers Park and the perimeter secured at a time when no one typically is using the park.

That’s not possible in the summer when the park and boat ramp area are heavily used, he said.

“We can’t find a location otherwise that doesn’t put us into the hillsides, which is a problem when we have a high fire danger,” Tillotson said.

An option could be to find a location to launch a “low-proximity” type of fireworks display, such as the one the Hotel Colorado puts on for its holiday lighting celebration the day after Thanksgiving.

The cost would be roughly the same, he said, but would require a rooftop or some other elevated location away from the hillsides and where people could gather close by to observe.

Another idea would involve a big community picnic in one of the parks, or some other family-oriented event to honor Independence Day.

City Councilman Matt Steckler said he would like to see a community organization, rather than city government, take the lead in raising money for and organizing such an event.

“It’s not necessarily our place to do this,” he said. “A lot of communities don’t do this through their local government, they do it privately. I’d like for us to put more thought into that.”

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