July 4 fireworks are a no-go in Longmont this year.
After the city last week granted conditional approval to launch the fireworks display from the Fire Training Center, Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez on Thursday evening issued a statement saying he is asking the City Clerk’s Office not issue a use of public places permit for this year’s show.
“While I believe that our fire staff would ensure a safe show and our police staff would ensure safe public places, I cannot risk the safety of our community if the public does not comply with our plan for a ‘watch from home’ event,” Dominguez stated. “I also cannot transfer the burden of crowd control to private property owners because, while gathering would be discouraged, we suspect crowds of varying sizes would gather in prime viewing spots all over town to watch the show.”
Dominguez added that there would be no way to ensure fewer than 175 people would gather (state limits based on the revised orders this week) and officials would have no way to conduct contact tracing if there were to be an outbreak of COVID-19.
He pointed to a recent surge in COVID infections in Boulder County as further basis for the decision.
Also considered in his decision-making, according to the statement, was the ongoing economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
“Another consideration I have carefully weighed is the cost of holding such an event during a time of economic uncertainty and restricted budgets,” Dominguez stated. “We estimate that public safety staffing alone would run into the tens of thousands of dollars, not counting additional costs that would be incurred by the community if there were to be new outbreaks of COVID-19 from lack of compliance with public health guidelines regarding large gatherings, social distancing and face coverings.
"The number of cases in a community impacts the ability for Boulder County to ask for variances that allow businesses to further reopen," he added. “If we have an increase in cases, we increase the challenge to our local business community.”
Dominguez stated he appreciates the hard work of the Skyline Kiwanis, Zambelli Fireworks and city staff to keep the fireworks on the calendar, “ but I don’t feel that we can take the risk of holding the event. … The Skyline Kiwanis have stepped up to make this a signature event in Longmont, and I hope they can use the funds they have already raised to have the best show possible in 2021.”
Skyline Kiwanis last year took on the mantle of fundraising for the costs of the fireworks display after funding for the show was cut from the city budget. This year the club is sponsoring the event and has been raising money to keep the tradition alive.
“While we are all saddened that we won’t be able to enjoy a firework display this year, we recognize that we are all in this together. We are making these tough decisions in order to preserve the health of our community and to promote continued economic recovery for our businesses,” Dominguez stated. “We also look forward to different circumstances next year and to celebrating together in a big (and safer) way on the occasion of Longmont’s 150th anniversary.”