July 4 weekend looking busy | VailDaily.com

July 4 weekend looking busy

Alex Miller

EAGLE COUNTY – For all the Vail Valley’s high-falutin’ ways, when it comes to the Fourth of July, it’s back to American basics with fireworks, parades and patriotic music.Where things depart a bit from Smallville is in the sheer scale of goings-on: From Minturn to Eagle, the upcoming weekend will feature no less than four fireworks displays in the county, plus more beer, brats, family-style picnics and musical happenings than you can shake an apple pie at.”We have one of the best Fourth of July weekends in the state,” said Ian Anderson at the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau, adding that the town is filling up. “Our (hotel reservation) agents are finding that there’s still some availability, but it’s quickly diminishing.In the spirit of tradition, there won’t be much deviation from previous years’ activities in and around Vail, although there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Due to construction projects in the Vail Village and Lionshead areas, this year’s Vail parade will take a slightly different route. The parade – which runs from west to east this year – will start by the Marriott on West Lionshead Circle, then take South Frontage Road to East Lionshead Circle. The parade will then take the customary route up Meadow Drive through Vail Village.Also different this year, according to Suzanne Silverthorn at the Town of Vail, is that the patriotic concert will take place July 3 instead of on the Fourth.”It helps add to the lineup of activities and events,” Silverthorn said.On July 4 in Ford Park, there will be concerts by the Bill Parish Orchestra and Power Company, beginning at 1 p.m. and extending into the evening. Also new this year: The orchestra will accompany the Golden Peak fireworks, with the best seats for looking and listening at the lower bench at Ford Park.Busy, busy, busyThe Automobile Association of America predicts this Fourth of July travel season to be the busiest ever, according to a press release. AAA estimates 40.3 Americans will take to the road, traveling 50 miles or more for the holiday. That’s up from 39.2 million last year, even with gas prices in the Vail area up an average of 20 cents per gallon more than this time last year.For travelers to and from the High Country, the crunch occurs at the Eisenhower Tunnel.”We expect to see pretty high volume with the three-day weekend,” said Rod Henderson, senior maintenance supervisor at the Eisenhower Tunnel. “Even Friday will probably be heavy.”It’s hard to compare to previous years, Henderson said, since the Fourth falls on a different day every year. Whether traffic will continue heavy into the post-fireworks hours Monday evening, he said, remains to be seen.Many of those travelers will need somewhere to stay. In Vail, Anderson said bookings through June were up about 10 percent over last June, although he noted that the Vail Valley Chamber & Tourism Bureau accounts for only about 10 percent of total bookings. Early July numbers are down slightly, he said.”But more than half of typical July reservations are booked in the month for the month,” he said. “And traffic on vailonsale.com, our last-minute reservations Web site, is surging for this upcoming weekend.”John Buckley at Peeples Ink – which handles public relations for the Vail Summer campaign – said the areas sees a big influx from people looking to beat the heat.”People from the Midwest, Texas, even the Front Range, they think it’s heaven,” Buckley said of the mountain weather. Vail also has the added bonus of a major sporting event going on over the weekend. The Lacrosse Shootout, he said, is a big draw.”It’s one of the biggest lacrosse events in the country,” he said, adding that a lot of Front Range visitors are in town for the tournament.Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or amiller@vaildaily.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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