Frisco plans for return of Fourth of July fireworks, Bikes and Barks Parade |

Frisco plans for return of Fourth of July fireworks, Bikes and Barks Parade

Fireworks depend on fire restrictions, support from other agencies

A person bikes during Frisco’s Fourth of July parade in 2019. Following the inaugural 2021 Bikes and Barks Parade, the town is planning for it to return next year.
Photo by Todd Powell / town of Frisco

Planning for July 4, 2022, has already begun in Frisco.

During a work session Tuesday, Aug. 10, Frisco Town Council gave town staff the go-ahead to budget and prepare for a traditional fireworks show and the return of this year’s human-powered Bikes and Barks Parade.

In a staff update, Marketing and Communications Director Vanessa Agee and Events Manager Nora Gilbertson recapped council members on recent Fourth of July history with analysis and suggestions on how to move forward.

After the town of Breckenridge indefinitely canceled its fireworks in 2019, Frisco followed suit out of concerns about increased traffic and infrastructure stress. For instance, emergency services were worried about response times — particularly when people exit at the end of the ceremonies.

“We knew people were watching Frisco fireworks not only from the marina, but they were watching it from Sapphire Point, from the Dillon Amphitheater, from the (Frisco) Adventure Park,” Agee said. “People were getting creative because everyone pretty much leaves fireworks at the same time.”

Fireworks were put on hold in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and again in 2021 due to the ongoing construction at the intersection of Summit Boulevard and Main Street for the Gap Project. With the project scheduled to be completed by October, meaning there will be two lanes of traffic in both directions, staff believes the fireworks show is doable.

According to Agee and Gilbertson’s report, the Frisco Police Department has needed 45 to 90 minutes to clear pedestrians and traffic from the marina and the highway. Assuming Frisco would be the only show in the county, the department would like to clear it more efficiently if it is able to receive assistance from other law enforcement agencies.

Representatives from Summit Fire & EMS and Centura Health said at the meeting that they would be able to provide emergency services with the improved infrastructure.

In addition to needing more support, the weather for fireworks also has to be right.

“The fireworks are set off very close to the shores of the Dillon Reservoir, which means that we have fewer concerns around starting a fire,” Agee said. “… We’re perfectly aware that if we have fire restrictions, which seems much more prevalent than they ever did 10 to 20 years ago, we would still have to make the decision not to have the fireworks.”

Fireworks are prohibited under Stage 2 fire restrictions, yet Stage 1 fire restrictions allow for permitted, organized displays. Though council member Andrew Aerenson supports the fireworks, he mentioned having concerns about sending mixed messages under Stage 1 restrictions. Agee said it’s possible to clearly communicate that the government putting on a permitted display doesn’t give everyone else a pass, and she said she knew of people who set off fireworks under Stage 2 restrictions this summer.

“It’s impossible to foolproof that because of the human factor,” Agee said.

The return of fireworks would cost an estimated $48,340, with the bulk of the cost being the fireworks themselves and security, lighting and other amenities making up the rest of the expenses.

Mayor Hunter Mortensen was the only one at the meeting not keen on fireworks coming back.

“I fall in the camp that I think fireworks are dead,” he said. “I don’t think we really have a need for them anymore. I don’t see the value in them. … I just think there’s less benefit to them every year, personally.”

Meanwhile, council support for the walking parade was unanimous.

“I think it makes us different,” Aerenson said about prohibiting vehicles. “It expands the opportunity for character and characters.”

The bicycle- and pet-friendly Bikes and Barks Parade came out of adapting to the pedestrian promenade’s prohibition of vehicles. Gilbertson said there were more than 500 participants the day of the parade when standard versions typically saw 150 entries in the past.

Though there was some negative feedback, staff said that could be addressed by implementing the traditional trappings of the regular Fourth of July parade like music, prizes and candy.

“Bring back the components that people love,” Agee said. “But do they really love seeing 10 Corvettes? Some, but I think a lot more love celebrating as a community and seeing components that reflect who we are.”

The parade in either format costs about $2,000, and Mortensen expressed possibly increasing the parade budget for improvements such as providing candy and prizes.

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