Does Vail need to shake up Vail America Days events? |

Does Vail need to shake up Vail America Days events?

From the parade to fireworks, Travis Coggin says it's time to talk about Vail's biggest summer event

People gather the streets of Vail Village during Monday's Vail America Days parade. The parade was back in its traditional formate after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

A Vail Town Council member thinks it’s time to talk about Vail America Days and what it could be.

There were fewer people in town this year based on frontage road parking numbers. There was still music, but the fireworks show was replaced by a 20-drone display.

During Tuesday’s Vail Town Council meeting, Council member Travis Coggin said he was “underwhelmed as a participant,” adding that he’d like the council and town officials to have a serious conversation about future events.

Coggin, when reached Wednesday, said he wasn’t trying to be critical of the event and the work it takes to put it on. Still, he asked, “Is the parade achieving what we want it to achieve? Is it a fun, vibrant thing or just a lot of people in town?”

If the parade isn’t accomplishing what town officials want, Coggin wants to know what can change.

That conversation will start soon.

Vail special events coordinator Jeremy Gross noted that the July 19 council meeting will include a report on Vail America Days.

“After every event we recap, debrief and talk about how we can improve,” Gross said.

Gross added that his impression of the parade was that people enjoyed the event, particularly after two years of static displays.

“Overall, it felt good to be part of Vail America Days again,” Gross said.

That said, it wasn’t a perfect event. Gross noted businesses that usually have floats or parade displays couldn’t participate due to being short-staffed.

“That’s something we’d love to solve in the future,” Gross said.

Gross added that planning in earnest for this year’s event didn’t begin until March or so, due to uncertainty about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s late to start putting together a Fourth of July party, he noted. 

But the 2023 event now has a roughly 12-month planning window, Gross added.

Besides the parade, Coggin said town officials need to have a serious talk about whether Vail wants to continue with this year’s drone show.

“What do we want the evening experience to look like?” Coggin asked, noting that a drone or laser show can’t replace the visceral experience of a big fireworks show.

If the town does commit to fireworks, it has to be with the understanding that the show is an all-or-nothing proposition, Coggin said. A dry summer could cancel any display at all, he added, noting that perhaps Vail could switch to winter-only fireworks displays.

Town officials have to decide whether the certainty of a show is worth spending money on drones or lasers. This year’s 200-drone show came with a $100,000 price tag.

“We should always be asking what we’re getting out of any investment,” Coggin said, adding he hopes the conversations happen soon about the future of Vail’s biggest summer event.

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