DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — At the Davey Jones firework stand in Castle Rock, business has been busy. There has been a consistent stream of people coming in to buy fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July.
However, celebrating the holiday will be a little different this year. Along with drought and fire concerns, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way people come together for the holiday weekend.
Across the state, numerous years events have been canceled, including parades and other community events where large crowds gather for the sake of safety.
In Douglas County, however, the fireworks shows will go on as planned but there will be some new options for people to enjoy them.
“The message of dark skies is not one that Douglas County thought would be appropriate in this unprecedented year where so many things are happening and we don’t take our liberties for granted,” said commissioner Abe Laydon.
The county is hosting three fireworks displays this year: one in Castle Rock, one in Lone Tree and one in the Parker/ Highlands Ranch area.
The displays will all start at 9:30 p.m. and people are being encouraged to either watch them from their homes or from their cars, where they can safely social distance from others.
The county is also planning on livestreaming all three displays to the tune of patriotic music for people who want to be able to watch indoors.
Laydon believes that by having a countywide celebration, fire dangers will be limited.
“When skies are dark, we know citizens will go out to Wyoming, purchase fireworks illegally and then do their own fireworks in their streets, which could potentially put their homes and their properties and their neighborhoods and greater risk,” he said.
By having three official fireworks displays, he hopes the community will be discouraged from using illegal fireworks.
The county is also asking people to not host large Fourth of July gatherings and to take safety precautions like social distancing and wearing masks whenever possible.
“In Douglas County we are big believers in personal responsibility. Our citizens are smart, they are diligent, they are incredibly healthy and so we believe they’re going to make the right decision. They’re not going to gather in large groups,” Laydon said.
The Colorado Tourism Office is also pushing for people to celebrate responsibly, particularly if they are planning to travel.
“This is definitely not a typical holiday weekend that we’re about to see. More and more, visitors are not only looking out what they want to do but what can they do and what can they do in a responsible way,” said communications manager Abby Leeper.
The Colorado Tourism Office is working with different towns and counties to figure out how best to promote their desires during a time when different communities are in different stages of reopening.
While Leeper says they want to help encourage tourism to help the state’s economy recover, they are hoping people will be safe. The office has put together a Care for Colorado campaign as well as several educational videos.
One of the videos stresses the importance of people wearing masks, washing their hands regularly, practicing physical distancing and planning ahead.
“In Colorado we like to say that your mask is your passport to explore and so when you’re out and about please have a mask handy,” Leeper said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife, meanwhile, says this summer has been jam-packed with visitors but it’s reservation system for camping is helping out.
“Coming up on the Fourth of July weekend, everybody wants to get outdoors and if they’re looking for a campsite, they can know in advance what could be available,” public information officer Jason Clay said.
After temporarily closing down due to the pandemic, the visitor’s centers and offices are open once again.
For people who are planning of going to a state park for the Fourth of July holiday, CPW is asking people to please be patient and flexible. Normally during the summer, the parks are near or at capacity during certain weekends.
This year, Clay says they have been at capacity just about every weekend and even on some weekdays.
Clay is asking people to please plan ahead, look up the safety ordinances for the county you are visiting when it comes to fire bans and health precautions, and try to avoid peak times when hundreds of other people will be visiting the parks as well. Masks are also encouraged.
Celebrating the Fourth of July will be different this year with COVID-19 and the drought. However, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate safely with your family. For a list of fireworks displays, check out our full list here.