Amy Roberts: A Big Sky on the 4th of July |

Amy Roberts: A Big Sky on the 4th of July

If the comments on social media are any indication, few people were thrilled with the decision to move the 4th of July parade to the 2nd of July. Many of the reasons for doing so — and the reasons for disagreeing with the decision — were valid. In the ‘pros’ column, there’s the idea that town has become so unmanageably busy, there’s no need to welcome another 50,000 people from around the state, especially given less than 40% of Utah residents are fully vaccinated. Planning for the event started months ago, when we still weren’t certain what this summer would look like. The Delta variant didn’t help. But mostly, moving the parade from the 4th seemed to be the only reasonable way to keep things a little more local without coming right out and saying the rest of Utah isn’t exactly welcomed in Park City. There simply wasn’t enough time to implement Operation: Check IDs at the White Barn.

While it might not be hospitable, you could argue it was somewhat logical. After all, residents have been demanding for years the city “do something” about traffic and crowds. We endlessly complain there’s nothing uniquely local anymore, and those of us who live here year-round are generally dismissed in favor of tourists. But crowd control and a locals’ first mindset only work as logical excuses when they’re, well, logical.

Park Record columnist Amy Roberts.

Since the 4th fell on a Sunday, the vast majority of workplaces recognized Monday as the national holiday. Meaning a parade on Friday only really catered to the retired or trust-funding folks — not the locals who run our nonprofits, own local businesses, or who are just generally employed. Then of course, the Silly Market went on as planned on the actual 4th, which reportedly drew parades-on-the-right-day sized crowds, with thousands of people we weren’t keen to welcome on Friday, but two days later somehow found their company to be slightly more tolerable. It doesn’t seem like anything was gained by moving the parade. The vaccination rate didn’t change, the spread of the Delta variant didn’t slow, and the roads and parking lots didn’t expand in those extra 48-hours. But it does feel like a lot of goodwill, tradition, and confidence in elected officials was lost.

I personally did not attend either event over the weekend. My absence wasn’t for spite, or for work-related duties. Rather, last year some friends and I unknowingly began a bit of a new tradition. The summer of 2020 didn’t look too promising in terms of entertainment or travel, so a friend and I decided to visit another buddy who spends his winters in Park City and his summers at his home on Flathead Lake in Montana. We enjoyed our weekend so much last year, we vowed to do it again in 2021, same place, same weekend. I’m not sure if two years in a row qualifies as a tradition, but it’s one I can get behind establishing. Mostly because Montana in general, and especially in this particular nook of the state, is so much more untamed than any place else I’ve been in America.

I have often thought of Park City as champagne tipsy on Western fantasy. But Montana is whiskey drunk on Western reality. It’s equal parts “to each his own” and “you’re on your own.” They don’t care what you do, but you damn well better be up to snuff on your survival skills. Anyone on the other end of a 9-1-1 call isn’t going to put down their beer, interrupt their dinner, or leave the fireworks show to save you from your own stupidity. Got attacked by a bear? You shouldn’t have left your trash out. Your property is on fire? You shouldn’t have lit those fireworks so close to the house. Accidentally cut off your arm? Rub some dirt on it, take an Advil, and keep it elevated until Thursday when someone will stop by to check on you.

It’s at once alarming and refreshing. And as nonsensical as it is, it’s still more logical than celebrating the 4th on the 2nd.

Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.


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