Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Mel Stewart said Monday morning that the city’s July 4 fireworks show is being canceled because of the high fire danger.
“We don’t want to take a risk that we’ll end up with a fire,” Stewart said.
The Steamboat Springs City Council is expected to make the decision official during its meeting Tuesday night, and a downtown concert is expected to replace the show, Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Tom Kern said. Details about the concert are expected to be announced Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
In addition to the city’s fireworks display, Stewart said the city would be enforcing Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s executive order from last week that bans open burning and the private use of fireworks. Stewart said he interprets that to mean all fireworks, even sparklers.
“We will obviously be taking that very seriously,” Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Joel Rae said. “If you have to light a firework, it’s illegal.”
Oak Creek banned fireworks last week, and Hayden is expected to follow suit.
Steamboat’s July 4 fireworks show launched from Howelsen Hill has gained the reputation of being one of the best in Colorado. It costs about $25,000 but has been valued at $100,000 and draws people from throughout the state.
July 4 is an important part of the summer tourism season, Kern said, and even though it falls on a Wednesday this year, he expects occupancy rates will be high at local lodging properties the weekend leading up to and after the holiday.
“I think that’s what you’re going to see,” Kern said.
While some might be disappointed by the lack of a fireworks show to cap off Independence Day festivities, he said there are other activities taking place that make Steamboat a draw.
The cattle drive down Lincoln Avenue is returning this year at 10 a.m. July 1. The 105th annual Cowboys’ Round-Up Days Ranch Rodeo is the evening of July 4 at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena. Rodeos also are being held June 29 and 30 and July 6 and 7.
With persistent dry weather, the city had explored other sites for the fireworks show. Stewart said they considered launching them from the Knoll Parking Lot, which would have offered a less flammable launching pad near the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
“We looked at that and just decided that wasn’t a good alternative,” Stewart said.
He said the show would have been smaller, and they would rather devote the resources toward next winter’s show when the community celebrates the 100th anniversary of Winter Carnival in February 2013. The ski area also will be celebrating its 50th birthday.
The last time Steamboat’s July 4 fireworks show was canceled was in 2002, when similar dry conditions existed and 41,900 acres eventually would burn in Routt County’s Routt National Forest. The Hinman and Burn Ridge fires in North Routt started in July 2002 and joined to form the Zirkel Complex that burned 31,000 acres. The lightning-caused fires were not fully contained until October.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com