Rifle prepares for July 3 celebration | PostIndependent.com

Rifle prepares for July 3 celebration

Ryan Hoffman
Symphony of the Valley performs at Centennial Park in Rifle July 3, 2015.
Ryan Hoffman / Citizen Telegram |

In what’s become somewhat of a tradition, Rifle will host its annual fireworks display one day before Independence Day in Centennial Park.

And while there will likely be some impact from the revival of Glenwood Springs Fourth of July celebration, organizers are downplaying any idea that either event will suffer.

“I suppose it would be silly to say it’s not going to impact us at all,” said Don Chaney, special events manager for the city of Rifle.

The degree of impact, though, is uncertain, Chaney added.

Rifle’s July 3 celebration started around six years ago as a way to avoid conflicting with the annual Glenwood Springs July 4 festivities.

When Glenwood shelved its summer fireworks in 2014 after years of cancellation due to high fire danger and budgetary constraints, Rifle considered moving its fireworks show to July 4.

But the fireworks company at the time threatened to cancel if the city re-scheduled the event, so the city stuck with the day before Independence Day, Chaney said.

As more people voiced their preference for the “Third of July” celebration, the city decided to stick with the date.

“A lot of people said ‘we kind of like that better anyways,’” Chaney said, “so we stayed on the third.”

The popularity was not confined to Rifle residents. With limited options in the immediate area for firework shows, people traveled to Rifle from neighboring communities including Glenwood Springs.

New Castle, Silt and Parachute forgo July 4 festivities, opting to allocate resources for their own unique community events and avoid competing with other Independence Day activities.

The only other large celebration between Rifle and Glenwood Springs is in community of Apple Tree, south of New Castle. Apple Tree will host its 39th annual July Fourth Freedom Celebration, a day of activities and games starting at noon and culminating with a fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. Monday. There is a $5 admission fee.

After the absence of July Fourth fun in 2015, some Glenwood Springs residents voiced dismay that the city did nothing to note the nation’s birthday. That is when Glenwood Springs City Councilor Kathryn Trauger said she started to explore the matter.

Several organizations almost immediately supported the idea, and from there things took off.

The response since officially announcing the return of the July 4 celebration has been equally positive.

“People in Glenwood are really excited,” Trauger said. “They are very, very thankful we have pulled this back together again, and that we’re honoring our nation’s history and giving everyone something fun to do on the fourth.”

During the discussions in Glenwood Springs, Rifle’s July 3 celebration did arise but there was not much debate due to the different dates.

“We thought it might actually be complementary … people could go to both,” Trauger said.

Chaney agreed to a degree.

While he said there will likely be some impact, he believes people will still travel to Rifle to watch a show they have become acquainted with. Also, the timing of both events could play in Rifle’s favor.

“I also think that Monday night being when a lot of people are traveling home … the Sunday night fireworks make good sense for our audience,” Chaney said.

Plus, this year promises to be event better than last year, which drew the largest number of people Chaney said he has ever seen in Centennial Park.

Although it’s uncertain if the display will be longer than in 2015 — that show clocked in around 14 minutes — there will be more fireworks this year and the city retained the same pyrotechnic professionals used the past three years.

Festivities start around 7 p.m. with mini golf, food vendors and Jammin’ Jim the Juggler, a local performer who was especially popular at last year’s event, on site providing fun and food.

Symphony in the Valley takes the stage for a set of patriotic songs around 8 p.m. The last song will officially start the fireworks display, Chaney said.

As a precaution, hopeful viewers of the fireworks display should plan on being in place by 9 p.m.

The Glenwood Springs July 4 celebration starts at 7 a.m. with Lions Club 4K Firecracker Run. Family fun continues later in the day at Two Rivers Park, with live music starting at 6 p.m. The fireworks display is slated for 9 p.m.

In friendly fashion, Trauger said she hopes people from Rifle come to Glenwood Springs on July 4, and Glenwood residents head to Rifle on July 3.

While Rifle residents are encouraged to come out and celebrate, the city issued a reminder Tuesday that the sale or possession of fireworks is prohibited in the city and in Rifle Mountain Park. Open burning fires are prohibited in the city limits from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and camp fires are restricted to designated fire rings in Rifle Mountain Park.

Rifle Police Department will enforce the restrictions.

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