Vail swaps fireworks for drones in July

Drought in 2021 forced July 4 show cancellations across Colorado and the Mountain West

Our persistent drought has made it tough to launch fireworks shows. That won’t be a problem this year.

Fireworks are a Vail Valley tradition both summer and winter. But summer shows are becoming more difficult, so Vail will have a drone show this July 4.
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The Vail Town Council Tuesday agreed that instead of fireworks, the town would hire a firm to present an aerial show using drones. A 200-drone show will cost roughly $100,000. The town generally spends about $35,000 for fireworks.

Vail Special Events Coordinator Jeremy Gross told council members that the show will be about as visible as a fireworks show. Flying from mid-mountain on Vail Mountain, the show will be visible from both villages as well as other parts of town.

Fireworks shows are being canceled more often due to dry conditions, wind and other factors. Communities throughout Eagle County canceled their July 4 shows in 2021.Mountain communities including Breckenridge, Aspen, Steamboat Springs and Telluride also cancemed shows last year.

Council Member Barry Davis noted that drones are able to operate in more variable weather conditions. Gross noted that rain would ground drones, but wind restrictions would be similar to fireworks.

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Davis added he’s seen a drone show.

“At first it wasn’t to my taste,” Davis said. “But if you look at with the eyes of a child,” the displays are impressive, he added.

Council member Pete Seibert said he’d miss the sound of fireworks explosions, but guessed music can make some of that impact.

Council member Travis Coggin said he thinks the drone idea is “pretty neat,” and asked if there’s a way to move the show in the air from, say, Golden Peak to Lionshead to benefit all the town’s resort areas.

Still, Coggin acknowledged, the show is a “lot of money.”

On the other hand, Davis said, switching from fireworks to drones can make Vail a leader in an increasingly arid Mountain West.

No season-end Vail concert

The Vail Town Council Tuesday decided to call off a planned season-ending concert for employees.

Council members decided that between a tight schedule and Vail Resorts’ recent decision to extend Vail Mountain’s closing date from April 24 to May 1, holding a decent event would be difficult, at best.

Instead of a stand-alone show, town officials will enhance what’s taking place with current spring activations in town.

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