Park City wants to celebrate the Fourth of July, but figurative fireworks seem possible as plans are crafted
July 4 celebration expected to be scaled back
Park City wants to celebrate the Fourth of July, but it seems possible there could be some fireworks as the plans are made in coming months.
Leaders on Thursday briefly mentioned Independence Day during a broader discussion about plans for special events in 2021. It is expected the logistical aspects of events this summer and potentially into the fall will continue to be influenced by the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The Fourth of July is traditionally one of the busiest days on the calendar in Park City, drawing tens of thousands for a parade, daylong celebrations and fireworks at night. The parade, fireworks and other activities were canceled in 2020 out of concern for the sickness.
Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council on Thursday were not scheduled to hold an extensive discussion or make decisions regarding the Fourth of July, but the comments were notable nonetheless. It appears the elected officials will hold a more formal discussion about the plans for the holiday as early as next Thursday.
There appears to be early concern about a large Fourth of July celebration like the traditional ones. In the years before the 2020 cancellations, Independence Day involved a parade from Main Street to City Park, various activities throughout the day and a fireworks display at Park City Mountain Resort in the evening.
The holiday is less than four months from now and it seems almost certain the sickness will be spreading at that time even with the availability of vaccines. The comments on Thursday point toward the likeliness of a scaled-back celebration on July 4 in Park City.
“We don’t plan, at least now, I think, to have the full, like we remember it in 2019,” Jenny Diersen, the economic development program manager at City Hall, told the elected officials.
Diersen said a contract regarding the Fourth of July celebration will be presented to the City Council shortly while some of the following talks about the holiday are expected to unfold within the next two months.
Steve Joyce, a member of the City Council, provided some of the most extensive comments about the holiday on Thursday. He appeared to be worried that a Fourth of July celebration in Park City would draw a large crowd amid the pandemic and questioned how the events could be scaled back.
“I look at something like the Fourth of July and I know how to do what we did last year, which is say ‘We’re not doing it.’ What I don’t know how to do is to say ‘We’re going to do it, but instead of having 50,000 people come to it we’re only going to have 10,000,’” Joyce said.
The city councilor also said he currently would oppose holding a large Fourth of July celebration.
“How do we get 10,000 people instead of 50,000? Because if I had to pick right now I’d say ‘Let’s not do the Fourth.’ Because I don’t know how to do a Fourth with 10,000 people, 5,000 people. People are going to come from everywhere like they do all the time.”
It is not clear what sort of reaction City Hall would receive if it pursues a scaled-back event on July 4. Some would likely support the efforts to protect public health. Others, though, could be displeased if significant progress in combating the coronavirus had been made by then. Many would also consider the economic impacts of any City Hall decision about the Fourth of July celebrations.
The Fourth of July usually attracts people from Utah and outside the state to Park City, creating what is normally among the largest single-day crowds of the year. The day is seen as the traditional start of the summer-tourism season in Park City. July 4 this year is on a Sunday, making it likely the three-day weekend in Park City would be jammed in a typical year.
Park City leaders in the week-plus prior to July 4 in 2020 canceled the fireworks display and the parade based on concerns about the coronavirus. Park City instead opted to pedestrianize Main Street on July 4 last year, providing space for social distancing and attempting to create an attractive atmosphere even without the traditional celebration.
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