Grand Lake lodging looks fully booked even without 4th of July fireworks
Grand Lake may have canceled its fireworks, but lodging businesses in town are still expecting a busy Fourth of July weekend.
Before voting Monday night to cancel the traditional fireworks show, the Grand Lake Board of Trustees had noticed large crowds already present in town this season. The town has been seeing the increasingly packed beaches, boardwalks and lodging typical of the summer, but that comes with a higher risk this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the town board saw a survey from businesses in the community in support of keeping the show, but as the date drew nearer pressure from the county and state drove the town to reconsider.
At the Spirit Lake Lodge, the season has been jam packed already. According to manager Michael Sobon, all weekends at the lodge have been fully booked since Memorial Day. He expects the Fourth to be the same even without the fireworks.
“In recent weeks, we’ve seen a lot of traffic in town regardless,” he said.
Sobon, who has lived in Grand Lake all his life, described going to the town beach this last weekend and seeing it as crowded as it usually is during a holiday weekend. While he’s seen a few reservations canceled this week, he couldn’t say whether or not that was because of the fireworks.
Carey Barnes, owner of the Daven Haven Lodge, also expects a fully booked Independence Day weekend.
“People were expecting the possibility that (the fireworks) wouldn’t happen anyway,” Barnes said. “They just want to get out and get to mountains.”
As the state has reopened, outdoor recreation has seen a huge boost throughout Colorado. That makes Grand Lake, a town surrounded by public lands and open space, an ideal location for summer tourism during the pandemic.
Barnes said she hopes visitors understand the logistics of the Grand Lake community, which is smaller than a lot of people realize, and how that played into the fireworks decision. This is her 31st season at the Daven Haven, and while the Fourth of July show has always been a fun part of the weekend, she thinks visitors will still have a great holiday.
“It’ll be busy regardless if we have fireworks or not,” Barnes said. “They’ll be missed, but it’s the safest thing to do.”
Another concern raised by the board of trustees on Monday related to the fact that other Colorado communities were being allowed to move forward with firework shows and large scale celebrations.
The co-owner of the Historic Rapids Lodge, Max Ludwig, said he agreed with comments made by Trustee Ernie Bjorkman, who said that Grand Lake should be treated equally. However, Ludwig pointed out that there really was no right answer during this time.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Ludwig said of the decision. “People are still going to come.”
The Historic Rapids Lodge hasn’t seen quite as much business due in part to their location off main street that makes them harder to find, Ludwig explained, but the lodge is still doing well. The Fourth of July weekend has been fully booked.
Ludwig said that as favorite summer events are canceled and the pandemic makes life difficult, folks want to point fingers and blame someone. In the end though, he thinks the responsibility lies with no one person.
“There is no right. There is no wrong,” Ludwig said. “It’s nobody’s fault. Blame the virus.”
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