Hope for fireworks could fizzle

City debates alternatives after years of problems

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Lone Tree’s traditional Fourth of July celebration could end on a different note in 2013. In anticipation of another potentially dangerous wildfire season, city council members debated alternatives to the fireworks display — including a laser light show — during their April 16 meeting.

“Maybe we just won’t do fireworks this year,” Mayor Jim Gunning said. “I think there’s something to be said for not even planning fireworks with the backdrop of the drought.”

In 2012, with wildfires still raging in some parts of Colorado, Lone Tree canceled the display but went ahead with the rest of its popular Independence Day festivities. The city instead held a separate celebration and fireworks display over Labor Day weekend.

With a repeat of last summer’s conditions threatening, fireworks company Western Enterprises said it would be flexible on a date for the display. But Gunning said perhaps the city should consider something entirely different, suggesting a laser light show or some other form of entertainment.

“I would like to look at some kind of backup evening like that,” he said.

Not everyone was enthusiastic about the idea.

“I haven’t seen a laser light show that’s met expectations,” City Manager Jack Hidahl said. “It looked more like a screen saver on an old computer.”

“I think (fireworks) is a tradition,” Councilmember Kim Monson said. “I think our residents would be pretty disappointed if we didn’t make an effort.”

Gunning emphasized he’s only urging council to consider options, pointing out that 2012 was the fifth year in a row that Lone Tree’s fireworks had been canceled, cut short or derailed by fire or rainstorms.

“Since I’ve been here, it’s been kind of a hit and miss,” he said.

City staff suggested the idea of switching gears for the summer holiday.

“The current drought conditions have put the City of Lone Tree on alert as to whether or not to move forward with our current fireworks proposed contract,” says a staff report presented to council members.

Staff options if fireworks are canceled included a repeat of last year — adding another Sweetwater Park event later in the summer — creating a late fall or winter event at the Lone Tree Arts Center, or holding off on the display until Independence Day 2014.

The 2013 Labor Day display, which include an ’80s cover band before the fireworks, was a hit with residents. But it came at a cost.

“The rescheduled September event cost an additional $11,713.90,” according to staff. “This amount included all necessary Sweetwater Park infrastructure and a concert leading up to the display.”

An April 1 report from National Interagency Fire Center described wildland fire potential as normal in the Rocky Mountain region, with some above-normal conditions in southern Colorado from May to July.

“Generally warmer and drier conditions are expected mainly during June for the area, with fire potential to be at least normal by the core fire season of late May and continuing through June into early July,” the report says.

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