Avon fireworks create a festive, memorable Fourth | VailDaily.com

Avon fireworks create a festive, memorable Fourth

Andy Stonehouse

What a difference a year makes – and how quickly we find ourselves practically overwhelmed by the spirit and sound of one of the Vail Valley’s biggest holidays.

Upwards of 20,000 locals and visitors flocked to Avon’s Nottingham Park Friday afternoon for food, fireworks and rock “n’ roll music. And considering that the entire event was on the cusp of being cancelled entirely this year – a year after 2002’s fire conditions and a last-minute rainstorm made a fireworks show impossible – 2003’s Salute to the USA was a remarkable success.

Beginning mid-afternoon, Avon began rapidly filling with families excited about the festive affair. Parking, the event’s traditional headache, still posed considerable problems – especially for Avon residents hoping to preserve a bit of peace and order in their own parking lots.

But for those who managed to find a spot and head into the party area, they were treated to one of Avon’s biggest July 4th gatherings on record – a day where any doubt of Avon’s truly multicultural makeup was immediately erased.

And with Coors Brewing stepping up as one of the event’s major sponsors, party-goers also had their first opportunity in many years to enjoy a few brews while celebrating American independence.

Mark “Trouty” Troutman, working security detail at the beer garden gate, said the beer event was a significant success.

“I think it went over really well, especially as it was the first time we’d had a beer garden in eight years,” Troutman says. “For a trial run, there were no problems – and it was never really all that packed.”

Troutman, working with a crew of 13 from AM/PM Event Security, says he hopes the good response to the July 4 beer garden might signal a return appearance at Avon’s upcoming 25th anniversary celebrations.

Mid-park, huge lines developed at more than two dozen food vendors and crafts and merchandise tents. At the Tasty Taters Colorado trailer, Evergreen’s Linda Pierce and her husband Bill served up funnel cakes and curly fries to hundreds of hungry visitors.

“We’re just trying to put out fires,” Pierce said as she busily peeled potatoes in the back of the busy cookhouse trailer. “We started our business 13 years ago and this is the fourth or fifth time we’ve come to Avon S and it’s a whole lot better this year, especially when everybody got rained out last year.”

Over on the party’s main stage, rock fans got a serious blast from the past as the Bay City Rollers – one of Scotland’s biggest music success stories – kept the memories of the past alive. Still featuring original member Ian Mitchell, the band played two sets’ worth of mostly other people’s music – including what seemed like a second consecutive performance of Bad Company’s “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.”

As expected, the highlight of the evening was an extensive and eye-popping fireworks display, shot off from the shores of Nottingham Lake. Astoundingly brilliant colors and rippling explosions carried on for nearly 15 minutes, filling Avon with a huge plume of smoke.

Other than a motorcycle accident in Avon that left a man in critical condition, area law enforcement authorities report it was a largely normal compared to past Fourths.

Vail Police Sgt. Mike Warren said there were 17 arrests in Vail. Many of those involved minors in possession of alcohol; disorderly conduct and other alcohol-related offenses.

The Colorado State Patrol reported several DUI arrests, said Sgt. George Dingfelter but nothing out of the ordinary, he said.

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