4th of July: Parade canceled, rodeo canceled, fireworks still set, carnival canceled, Park-to-Park still a go

By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

Pagosa Springs will not be holding its annual Fourth of July Parade, following a Pagosa Springs Town Council decision at its regular meeting on June 2.

Additionally, the organizer of the carnival that comes into town annually during the summer informed town staff that he would not be able to put on the carnival due to logistics, Town Manager Andrea Phillips explained during the meeting.

The town is hopeful that the Fourth of July fireworks display can still be held.

The Park 2 Park Arts and Crafts Festival is still set to occur with certain distancing guidelines and with locations to be determined.

Town staff had submitted a road closure permit application to the Colorado Department of Transportation for a route that would have gone from 6th Street to U.S. 160 to Hot Springs Boulevard and back to Apache Street, Phillips explained during the meeting.

This direction to town staff was based on a decision made by council at a meeting on May 21.

In his fifth public health order, released on Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis highlighted that rodeos, fairs, festivals and parades are not authorized to occur due to “ongoing disease transmission in larger group settings that could result in disease outbreaks.”

“This order went into effect on June 1 and is supposed to last for 30 days. So in theory, on July 1st he might say, ‘OK, now we can open up to larger crowds,’ but by then, it would be too late for us to try and pull something together,” she said. “I don’t see how we could hold the July 4th parade.”

Council member Matt DeGuise explained during the June 2 meeting that he made the motion to submit the road closure permit application to the state out of “pure optimism,” adding that he was fine with canceling the parade.

“With a heavy heart I move that we cancel the Fourth of July Parade for this year, but that we still continue to move forward with having the fireworks and we allow the Chamber to determine if and how they can move forward with their arts and crafts fair,” council member Shari Pierce said.

Pierce’s motion passed unanimously by council.

In a follow-up interview on Wednesday, Phillips explained she can understand why people would be upset about the Fourth of July parade being canceled.

“We’re following the state’s orders, which don’t allow gatherings. We are looking at ways of moving forward with the fireworks and trying to celebrate Independence Day as a community in a way that’s safe,” she said. “I can understand it. People are very passionate about the Fourth of July and what it means for Americans, but we are trying to ensure that we’re following public health orders. We still want it to be a special day of remembrance of what it means to be an American, but we have to do it in a way that is following the governor’s orders.”

The town is looking at putting up decorations that will call attention to the Fourth of July and commemorate it in other ways that are safe, she added.


“I am still thinking that we can figure out the fireworks because we don’t need to have everybody congregated at one event in one place to do that if we use a little innovation and plan it carefully,” Mayor Don Volger said during the meeting.

Phillips added that the town will need to monitor whether or not possible future fire restrictions could impact the fireworks display.

“In the past, we have been able to get a variance from the county,” Phillips said. “We’ll be monitoring that and we’ll verify that we can do that.”

The town has until the week before the event to notify its fireworks vendor on its decision, Public Works Director Martin Schmidt explained.

Council member Madeline Bergon suggested potentially holding the fireworks on the athletic fields across the street from Town Park.

That field has gotten the “respite that it needs,” Bergon explained.

“I wish I could say there would be no damage, but anytime you hold an event on a field it creates some damage,” Parks and Recreation Director Darren Lewis said. “I have no problem if the event goes there.”

In the follow-up interview, Phillips explained that the plan is to hold the fireworks in the usual location on the hill behind Pagosa Springs High School.

“We’re going to need to think about how to disperse gatherings since that’s still not permitted under the state order,” she said. “We’re going to have to think about a plan to encourage people to really spread out and not congregate at Yamaguchi Park and certain areas.”

Park 2 Park Arts and Crafts Festival

During the meeting, Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mary Jo Coulehan explained that one vendor has canceled for its arts and crafts fair.

“They are very anxious to see if we can move forward or not,” Coulehan said. 

The Park 2 Park event can have vendors “space accordingly,” Coulehan noted.

“Currently, our vendor spaces are already 12-by-12, so there is significant distancing there, but with the carnival not happening now, we came up with a couple of different scenarios,” she said.

One of those scenarios would be to use the existing spaces that are available and take the vendors in Town Park “down by half” and do the same for the vendors in Mary Fisher Park, spreading them through Centennial Park, she described.

“If the carnival is not going to happen, we could concentrate the fair in both Town Park and the athletic field and really spread something out,” she added.

The Park 2 Park event is a “flow situation” for three days, according to Coulehan.

“The biggest attendance that we have is always after the Fourth of July parade. With that not happening, that also affects the flow and keeps it very steady,” she said. “We can certainly work on traffic flow through the vendors, but we can easily now put the vendors with significant space in between.”

Coulehan added that the Chamber wants to help the community and give people something to do during the Fourth of July holiday.

“I would like to do as much as we can to enable people to celebrate Fourth of July in our community,” Volger said. “If we can do the Park 2 Park thing safely, I’m all for it.”


In an email to The SUN on Tuesday, Western Heritage Event Center board member Lisa Scott noted that the board still hopes to hold the Red Ryder Roundup Rodeo.



This story was posted on June 10, 2020.