Grand Lake won’t back off Independence Day fireworks
Warned enforcing social distancing measures would be impossible, Grand Lake’s elected leaders wouldn’t back off plans to light up the Fourth of July with fireworks.
On Monday, Mayor Steve Kudron said canceling the 2020 Fourth of July fireworks show would be “defeatist,” as the town’s board of trustees doubled-down on the fireworks plan despite some concerns.
On April 27, trustees discussed calling off the July 4 fireworks due to the COVID-19 crisis. Glenwood Springs, Avon, Steamboat Springs and other communities have already abandoned their shows for many of the same reasons Grand Lake was debating it.
During April’s talks, one idea was to potentially move the fireworks to the town’s Buffalo Days festival in August and give local businesses a boost later in the summer when COVID-19 restrictions might be loosened. Fears hinged on the uncertainty surrounding public health orders and the crowds that could land on Grand Lake for the Fourth of July, especially since so many other Colorado mountain towns have bowed out.
During those early talks, board members had no fear Grand Lake would see large crowds over the holiday weekend — the town always does — and town staff acknowledged that any real enforcement of social distancing guidelines would be highly unlikely.
None of that had changed on Monday when Town Manager John Crone responded to a trustee’s question about Grand Lake requiring people wear masks in public.
“We can,” Crone said before keelhauling the idea by adding there’s “not a chance in hell” Grand Lake could enforce it.
Though board members were willing to weigh canceling the fireworks show during discussions last month, they ultimately wanted more feedback about how the decision could affect local businesses before making a call.
With results from a survey by the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce in hand, the board was much more adamant Monday that Grand Lake should go through with the Fourth of July fireworks show.
Board members and town staff conceded Grand Lake would have to follow any county, state or federal restrictions, which could put the show at risk. If fire restrictions ground the fireworks this summer, it wouldn’t be the first time in a county far too familiar with wildfires.
With all that in mind, Grand Lake’s elected leaders still want to shell the night sky on Independence Day. Some trustees expressed fears canceling the show would lead to more illegal fireworks, while others said they would prefer to plan for fireworks now and change the plan later if needed.
“I’m confident we’re going to have people here regardless, but I think that our town truly has shared how important it is for us to say, ‘We’re ready to be open,’” Kudron said before a proposal to cancel the fireworks show on Monday’s agenda died without a motion.
During the board meeting, some ideas to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 came up, including Grand Like Fire offering to post personnel at key access points to the waterfront passing out masks. Crone also said town staff would try to work with businesses to ensure other precautions.
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After welcoming over 16,000 guests in the past nine months, the Troublesome Stories exhibit in Grand Lake will be closing soon.