For the first time in three years there will be fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July in the upper valley. Hot, dry conditions and fire restrictions cancelled the fireworks shows in both 2013 and 2012. But this year, thanks to a really good snow season and a spring that still has snow capping nearby mountain peaks, the fireworks are on for Friday.
The big fireworks show will be held in Mt. Crested Butte this year at 9:30 p.m. There will also be one in Gunnison at Jorgenson Park at 9:15 p.m. It wasn’t that long ago that one of the big issues of the day in the valley was where and how many fireworks displays to have. In 2010, the town of Crested Butte had a show and so did Mt. Crested Butte. Fireworks wars were in full throttle. Hey, it’s a small town. That has changed. The two communities seem to have figured out a template where the daytime activities on the Fourth take place primarily in Crested Butte and the evening events, including the fireworks, are held up on the mountain. “This year the fireworks will start about 9:30 p.m. and will be launched from the Nevada Ridge subdivision site just above San Moritz Condominiums,” said Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick. “The premier place to watch will be from the base of the Red Lady lift after enjoying the free concert. There will be recorded music along with the fireworks that you will hear if you are near the Red Lady stage.” Western Enterprises of Oklahoma will present the show this year and it should last about 15 minutes. The town of Mt. Crested Butte is paying for the show. Aaron Huckstep, Crested Butte mayor, said the fireworks show is a sign of some changes that have been taking place in the upper valley. A more comprehensive view is setting in and the two communities are looking for ways to work together instead of squabble. “The lack of a fight about fireworks is a good sign of forward movement for all of us,” Huckstep observed. “In addition, [the Town Council of Crested Butte] just pledged $700,000 to the Land Trust to protect Mt. Crested Butte’s backyard and the start of the Snodgrass trail that begins in the town of Mt. Crested Butte. That is a much bigger issue than fireworks, and shows how we can work better by working together. Maybe we should have a Council-on-Council water fight after the parade to figure out what we do for 2015.” While it is certainly greener and wetter than the past few years, that doesn’t mean you can go wild with personal fireworks or fire. It is illegal to light or use fireworks on the national forest and other federally managed lands. Both Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte law forbids fireworks that make a report or leave the ground. “There are no other fire restrictions I know of at this time,” said Ric Ems, Crested Butte Fire Protection District fire chief. “We did go on a mutual aid call on Highway 135 earlier this week for a grass fire along the road. It was most likely started by a discarded cigarette. Things are drying up fast, so everyone still needs to be aware and be careful.” For a complete schedule of the Fourth of July events, go to section 2 of the Crested Butte News.