Park City expected to decide Fourth of July plans within days
Park City officials are expected to decide within days whether to hold a Fourth of July celebration and, if so, what sort of event will mark Independence Day amid the spread of the novel coronavirus and continued social distancing.
The decision will likely be made by the end of the workweek and as the holiday nears. Friday is just more than two weeks before July 4, leaving limited time for City Hall to significantly reimagine the celebration. The Park City Council is scheduled to meet on Thursday. The agenda on Thursday does not include an update regarding the Fourth of July, but staffers could provide one to the elected officials at the meeting anyway.
The holiday is typically marked with a parade moving from Main Street to City Park, activities throughout the day and fireworks at Park City Mountain Resort at night. The Fourth of July is usually one of the busiest days of the year in Park City, attracting large numbers of people from outside the community — including people from the Wasatch Front and from out of state — alongside Parkites enjoying a day of shopping, dining and activities.
City Hall last week expected information could be released sometime this week. An official on Monday said information would be made available by Friday but did not provide details.
The Fourth of July in any year is an important day for Park City’s summer-tourism season and it is seen as the traditional start of the busiest stretch of the warm-weather months.
But celebrating Independence Day in an era of social distancing becomes complicated as officials attempt to devise a plan that protects public health. The parade could prove especially difficult as the celebration is prepared. The parade typically draws a crowd to the Main Street and Park Avenue sidewalks as well as to City Park. The crowd is usually several people deep at many points along the route, making social distancing tough to accomplish. The City Park activities could also draw concern about social distancing since they usually attract large numbers of people. A fireworks display, though, it seems, could be held in a socially distanced manner by requiring separation between spectators. People watch the fireworks at Park City Mountain Resort from a variety of locations, providing options for the crowd to spread out.
The decision about the Fourth of July will be made as Park City’s tourism industry attempts to piece together a solid summer against headwinds that include the illness, high unemployment and the cancellation of events like the Park Silly Sunday Market and the Tour of Utah bicycling race. Officials last weekend launched a weekly program of turning Main Street into a largely pedestrian zone on Sundays, one of the steps taken to boost business this year.
The plans for the Fourth of July, meanwhile, will be made public shortly before Park City leaders are expected to decide the fate of the Park City Kimball Arts Festival, which is scheduled over a weekend in late July and early August. The leadership of the Kimball Art Center, the arts festival organizer, argues the event could be held with modifications to protect public health, but some of Park City’s elected leadership recently expressed concern.
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Deputies found Baird’s vehicle at a trailhead in the Sawtooth National Forest about 20 miles northwest of Ketchum.