Far fewer people in Vail for Fourth of July 2020
VAIL — Independence Day observances had a much different look and feel this year, with a more subdued atmosphere and far fewer people.
Vail usually sees more than 1,000 cars spill out of the parking structures and onto the overflow parking areas along the South Frontage Road on July 4th. This year, the structures did not fill, and while Vail parking supervisor Ethan Arnold said there was still a chance those lots could fill for the fireworks set for Saturday night, “I think that is a long shot,” he said.
With the annual Vail America Days parade canceled this year, visitors enjoyed exhibits instead. Many of the exhibits were the same vehicles often seen in the Vail parade, giving kids a chance to get up close with attractions like the “The Colorado River Queen” miniature steam ship, while remaining within their group.
And yes, candy was still being handed out by groups like Youth Power 365, which gave away lollipops.
Face coverings were a common sight among kids who didn’t have lollipops in their mouths as groups attempted to keep their space but found it difficult at times.
For many businesses, where face coverings became mandatory indoors earlier this week by orders of county officials, the sight of people in town for the Fourth of July was a welcome one.
Adam Pena and his wife Kristin opened Rocket Fizz candy shop in Lionshead about a week ago. They said they had deliberately set their sights on being open by July Fourth and set out to capture some Americana imagery with metallic pinups for sale featuring muscle cars, Route 66 signs, Betty Boop, Spiderman, Batman & Robin. Alongside classic American products like Dad’s Root Beer, red, white and blue rock candy sticks, and cherry mash candy — invented in 1918 in Missouri — Pena had indeed achieved the proper July Fourth theming in time for the store’s debut.
“We want it to feel like when you were a kid,” he said.
Pena said everything was going well until the rain hit. A downpour, which lasted hours with the intense weather turning to hail at times, canceled musical acts and caused exhibitors to pack up and leave early.
Social distancing was still being observed beneath store awnings and building overhangs, as groups attempted to wait out the storm.
Visiting from Denver, Jeffrey Rodriguez and Misha Schryer said they came in for the weather and were happy to wait out the rain as they knew the area could use it.
The pair found shelter in an old Lionshead gondola car.
“We’ll take whatever we can get,” Rodriguez said. “Even hail.”
Fire danger still high
Meteorologist Dennis Philipps with the National Weather Service said the storm that came through was a bit different than the typical afternoon showers Vail sees in the early summer as high pressure over the western plains of the U.S. forces tropical moisture up to the area. During a typical summer morning, surface temperatures are cooler and the air remains calm. But as the ground heats up in the afternoon, that moisture rushes upward, creating afternoon showers.
Philipps said on Saturday, however, the storm that hit Vail was “a little more organized.”
While the timing may not have been the best for local businesses which had set up displays in town, the timing may have been good in other ways, with fireworks planned for later in the evening.
“Any time you can wet things down before you start lighting stuff, that’s good,” Philipps said.
Moving forward, however, there’s probably little headed our way to reduce the need for the stage 1 fire restrictions that went into effect in the White River National Forest in Eagle County on Thursday.
“We’re looking at a windy and hot week behind this (storm system from Saturday)” Philipps said.