Park City cancels Fourth of July fireworks amid worries about coronavirus spread
Nothing will be bursting in air on the Fourth of July in Park City.
Leaders on Thursday canceled the traditional fireworks display at Park City Mountain Resort on Independence Day, one of a series of measures that will be taken on the Fourth of July designed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council also supported City Hall staffers who wanted the annual parade on July 4 canceled, leaving Independence Day without the two prime attractions.
It seemed almost certain recently the parade, with a crowd packed several people deep at many points, would be canceled, but it was not clear what would happen with the fireworks display until the meeting on Thursday. It appeared the fireworks display could be put on in a socially distanced manner, with spectators watching from residences or businesses rather than gathering at places like the Park City Golf Club or other popular vantage points. The City Council also wanted a volleyball tournament on July 4 canceled.
Some of the elected officials expressed concern that celebrations in Park City on Independence Day would draw crowds from the Wasatch Front at a time when the coronavirus continues to spread. City Councilor Steve Joyce said there have been fireworks displays in the Salt Lake Valley canceled and he was concerned people from those places would opt to visit Park City if it had a display. Tim Henney, another member of the City Council, made a similar prediction regarding the possibility of people from outside Park City arriving for a fireworks display.
The City Council, meanwhile, supported the idea of pedestrianizing Main Street on July 4, which is a Saturday. Main Street will be a vehicle-free zone on consecutive days that weekend as the Sunday pedestrian days that debuted earlier in June continue. The pedestrianized Main Street is designed to provide more space to practice social distancing and create an attractive atmosphere as the shopping, dining and entertainment strip attempts to recover from a steep drop in sales since mid-March caused by the spread of the sickness.
Independence Day has long been one of the key dates on the summer-tourism calendar as Park City typically draws large crowds from elsewhere in Utah and outside the state. The visitors are attracted to a small-town celebration of the nation’s birthday with a parade and a day full of other activities at City Park followed by a fireworks display silhouetted by the mountains. It is also seen as the start of the busiest stretch of the summer, lasting until Labor Day weekend.
The decision regarding the parade and the fireworks display was another hit to a summer-tourism season that already had been diminished by a series of event cancellations. Others have included the weekly Park Silly Sunday Market, the Park City Kimball Arts Festival and the Tour of Utah bicycling race. Various cultural and sporting events have also been canceled.
Park City leaders see the decisions regarding the summer events as important in the months before the lucrative ski season. They want to guard against the possibility of the coronavirus spreading as the November start of the ski season approaches.
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Tourism revenue increased month over month this summer, the Park City Chamber/Bureau reported, but lodging numbers are still off 22% for December. Officials reported a recent uptick in bookings, though, pointing to a modicum of certainty after ski resorts announced their COVID-related opening policies.