It’s been nearly three years since spectators in Breckenridge have witnessed the town’s signature dazzling fireworks display on the Fourth of July.
But this year, town officials say, the Independence Day show is coming back with a bang.
The town’s fireworks display, like others across the state, was canceled last summer due to drought-induced fire danger. Officials stockpiled the pyrotechnics and used them to put on two shows several months later — at the winter Dew Tour and during the 50th anniversary Ullr Fest celebrations.
The year before, in 2011, many spectators were disappointed in the Breckenridge fireworks display after the town tried switching over to the American-made proximate fireworks, the type of rockets generally used at baseball games which are intended for a very nearby audience. Officials said the proximate fireworks were safer and could be shot off the top of buildings in the downtown area, rather than in the emptied gondola lots, where the larger traditional fireworks were launched in the past.
“We tried an experiment because eventually we know that we’re going to lose that lot to development,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. “I guess that was not to everyone’s satisfaction.”
This year, with recent showers lowering the fire danger to moderate and making a July Fourth display possible, town officials say the larger traditional fireworks many locals and visitors remember will again headline Breckenridge’s weekend of patriotic festivities.
The show is set to begin at approximately 9:45, immediately following the National Repertory Orchestra concert at the Riverwalk Center.
But it is the only pyrotechnics display that will be allowed in Breck this weekend, officials said. The town has implemented a full ban on personal fireworks, including fountains and sparklers, asking that the public leave the entertainment to the professionals.
“We feel really lucky and blessed to be able to do fireworks this year, because we know there are some other communities that are not going to be that lucky,” Dykstra-DiLallo said. “But there is definitely zero tolerance for anyone trying to do fireworks on their own.”
The Red, White and Blue Fire Protection District will take precautions even with the professional fireworks display to ensure the town is safe from sparks. Crews will spray down the only wooded area in the vicinity of the gondola lots before the show and will walk the area afterwards to ensure sparks haven’t been carried past the pavement.
“It’s being shot off on an asphalt lot,” Red, White and Blue deputy chief Jay Nelson said. “But we take those precautions in case the winds come up and blow some of that material further than where we expect it to land.”
Officials say there is concern that having a public show at all sends the wrong message to the public, one they hope the ban will mitigate this year.
The town will host a number of other activities and events for the holiday as well, including a 10K trail run, bike race, the traditional Fourth of July parade on Main Street and concerts featuring Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and the NRO.