Fireworks display in downtown Crested Butte not likely this year

They’re baaaaack…maybe

The issue of fireworks in the north end of the valley had to come up sometime. And with time running out to order a Fourth of July extravaganza, the time was now. The Crested Butte town council decided that it is best to adhere with a handshake agreement previous councils have had with their counterparts in Mt. Crested Butte and put on a fireworks show every other year…whether Mt. Crested Butte council members are still following that tacit agreement or not. And they aren’t.



Mt. Crested Butte has found that fireworks add vitality and people to their town on the Fourth. And so they have started putting on a fireworks show every summer on the Fourth of July. They like the idea of daytime activities being centered in Crested Butte and evening festivities, including live music and fireworks, being held in Mt. Crested Butte. That has put the Crested Butte council in a quandary and last year they held their own display on July third, a Sunday. The year before, there were two big fireworks shows on the evening of the Fourth, one at the Mt. Crested Butte base area and one launched from Crested Butte.
Given the every-other-year equation, the council felt this should be an off year for a downtown launch.
Councilperson John Wirsing said he felt he’s gotten mixed messages from downtown business owners over the issue. “Two years ago they donated a lot of money to help fund the show,” he said. “Last year, they didn’t put that much money into the fund. Maybe a group of businesses or a business organization like the Chamber of Commerce takes it on. They can come to us for assistance.”
Town manager Susan Parker said in 2010 the town received $7,600 in fireworks contributions. In 2011, just $1,700 was raised. Those shows cost more than $10,000 each or about $1,000 a minute.
“The real question this year is the drought,” said councilperson Roland Mason. “Will there be a fire ban? If there is, given our (wetter and safer) location, can we still launch fireworks anyway?”
“We might be able to on the northeast side of town but that would put us in a potential liability situation if something happens when there is a fire ban,” Parker said. “If the county issues one, and I would expect that, we’d probably recommend that the town be part of it.”
“If Mt. Crested Butte couldn’t put on a show would anyone oppose us looking into it?” asked Huckstep.
“I’d like to do it,” said councilperson Jim Schmidt.
“If the businesses told me they see the fireworks as being valuable, I’d want to try and pursue it. I personally want it down here,” said Wirsing. “I’d just continue with what former councilperson Dan Escalante suggested. We will alternate years with Mt. Crested Butte whether they do it or not.”
“This would be an off year then,” said Parker.
“It’s a good year for it,” said councilperson Shaun Matusewicz.
“What about trying to get a larger community event to occur at Rainbow Park,” suggested Huckstep. “It could be a way to keep people in town and get them out of their cars in the evening.”
“I like the idea of a big town event,” said Mason. “Maybe it’s more visible in Pitsker Field. People can hang out, eat, throw their blankets down and watch the fireworks no matter where they are being launched. I’d be willing to throw money at that.”
“If we spread the people out between Crested Butte and Mt. CB, we can attract more people up here comfortably even when people think we are maxed out now,” said Huckstep. “Maybe we add an aerial event in the late afternoon.”
“I love the fireworks in Crested Butte. But that said, I think it is fine for our friends in Mt. Crested Butte to shoot them off this year,” said Schmidt. “If things are too crispy up there and they don’t want to set the ski area on fire, it could work down here. A Fourth of July without fireworks is just weird.”
Parker cautioned that it wasn’t as easy as lighting a few fuses. There were extensive approvals to obtain and logistics to consider.
“We understand the probability is low but let’s keep that door open,” said Huckstep.
The council agreed to honor the every-other-year template of lighting fireworks one year in Crested Butte and then the next on the mountain. So…look for another grand display of two fireworks shows in 2013.

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