Despite no fireworks, still plenty to do July 4 |

Despite no fireworks, still plenty to do July 4

The city’s Fourth of July fireworks show was canceled last year because of the high fire danger.
Matt Stensland

This year’s July 4 fireworks show would have been a memorable one.

Steamboat Springs resident Scott Borden had planned to launch 5,000 shots.

Organizers have put more fireworks up before, but this year, there would have been 85 shells with diameters of eight, 10 and 12 inches.

“That’s one of the things that makes Steamboat shows unique, because not many municipalities have the fallout areas for bigger shows,” Borden said.

With Saturday’s announcement that the show was being cancelled due to elevated fire danger, Borden now has a full year to plan for next year.

Steamboat’s July 4 fireworks show was last cancelled in 2012.

“We had a very dry winter that winter,” Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said. “We went into the spring with very low moisture on the ground. It made it a pretty easy decision to pull the plug early on it.”

That year, the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association had two weeks to find alternate entertainment.

Tom Kern, who was CEO of the Steamboat Chamber at the time, worked his connections and was able to book at Beatles cover band to perform a July 4 evening show.

“At the entrance to the concert, 2,000 plastic fiber-optic wands were handed out as surrogate Fourth of July sparklers.

“It actually looked like the Fourth of July,” with all of those light wands waving in the air, Steamboat Chamber board member Kathy Stokes said when reflecting on the show.

With only three days notice, it proved too challenging this year to match Kern’s salvaging of Independence Day 2012.

“That last time, there was additional special event funding to use, and this year, we do not have that funding,” Steamboat Chamber CEO Kara Stoller said.

Steamboat is not the only mountain community to cancel its fireworks show.

Aspen announced the cancellation of its show Thursday, also due to the fire danger.

Ultimately, Stewart said it was not worth the risk to launch fireworks given the dry conditions.

“I hate to see it not happen, but the alternative of having a fire that started and got away from us would far outweigh that benefit,” Stewart said.

According to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, Steamboat received only .33 inches of rain through June 25. On average, Steamboat receives 1.53 inches of rain in June.

There were some isolated storms June 26 with limited precipitation.

In the past week, conditions have dried out considerably, and there was no significant rainfall in the forecast.

Stewart met with city and Steamboat Chamber officials Saturday as a new wildfire was raging in North Routt County.

That fire was the tipping point for cancelling the show, Stewart said.

“We all agreed it just made sense to go that way and be safe and not sorry,” Stewart said. “If we’ve already got one fire going on, having a second one would really deplete our resources.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.


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