AVON — A long-standing Vail Valley tradition returns tonight, when Avon’s Salute to the USA kicks off the Fourth of July the night before Independence Day. There aren’t a lot of places where you can catch two fireworks shows on consecutive nights, and this is one of them
Fireworks are the big draw for Salute to the USA, as last year’s firework-free event proved. With the Vail Valley — along with the rest of the state — gripped in a historic drought last year, communities cancelled their firework shows. Avon and Vail waited until the last week of June in 2012 before making the same decision. While town officials put a brave face on, it wasn’t the same. Hundreds, not thousands, of people turned out at the town’s Nottingham Park.
This year, town officials are all using the same word — “excited” — about the return of one of the state’s biggest fireworks shows. Town clerk Patty McKenny, long a town resident, said she’s happy to see the annual event return to its traditional, flashy ways.
And town recreation director John Curuchet said he’s been answering a lot of calls about whether the show will indeed go on, especially since Aspen, Crested Butte and several Front Range communities have cancelled their shows.
With Avon’s show a go, here are some handy hints for those heading out to the park:
• Gates open at 4 p.m.
• The bands, Whitewater Ramble and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, will play at 5 and 7 p.m., respectively.
• There will be a beer tent — you can’t bring your own — as well as the always-popular “Family Fun Zone.”
• Parking will be tricky. It always is. McKenny said a number of smaller businesses in the middle of Avon rope off their parking lots and charge for parking. The best idea might be the $10 parking at the rodeo grounds just to the east of City Market. From there, town buses will pick up and drop off passengers every seven minutes, dropping people off near the park. That will cut down on the walk, especially if you’re carrying blankets, coolers and such.
• Don’t park at condo complexes. If you park somewhere you shouldn’t, you will get a ticket and might get towed. Some renters have been asked to keep copies of their leases in the car to prove they’re authorized to park at the complexes.
• Leave the alcohol out of your cooler. The event is free, but people at the gates will check for booze and personal fireworks. Also, leave your pets at home.
• If you don’t want to mingle with the crowds, there are options. Parking on Interstate 70 is a no-no, but the high-elevation fireworks can be seen easily for miles around.
“The new West Avon Preserve open space would be a great place,” McKenny said, adding she and her family have also watched the display from Beaver Creek.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Curuchet said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.