Vail looks to ‘reimagine’ events including Vail America Days |

Vail looks to ‘reimagine’ events including Vail America Days

Ideas include moving fireworks farther up Vail Mountain and a 'stationary' parade

The traditional Vail America Days parade doesn't work in the days of social distancing. Town officials are looking at ways to still hold a celebration, including a "stationary" parade.
Thomas H .Green | EVV file photo
Expanding access In addition to looking at events, Vail officials are also working to make life a little easier for businesses. The Vail Town Council Tuesday approved a temporary order that allows alcohol consumption in certain town parks. Where drinking is allowed will be up to the town manager, and extra trash and recycling containers will be part of the plan. The council also is working on ideas to expand restaurant seating and outdoor retail spaces for businesses in the town’s resort villages. That expnded space will allow businesses to serve more customers while maintaining social distancing.

Vail’s never more full than the Fourth of July. That isn’t going to happen in the days of social distancing. But town officials are working on ways to celebrate the nation’s birthday.

Vail Economic Development Director Mia Vlaar on Tuesday updated the Vail Town Council on some still-developing plans for Vail America Days and other events into the later days of summer.

The town’s events calendar has been hit hard by the COVID-19 virus pandemic. The GoPro Mountain Games, Bravo! Vail Music Festival, Vail Dance Festival and others won’t take place this year. The Vail Farmers’ Market & Art Show will start June 14 in a virtual format for orders, pickup and delivery. The first in-person market is set for July 15, but with plans to better separate vendors and patrons.

Vlaar said the town’s event producer partners are looking to reimagine events. Some events may have small-scale performances this summer. Others are on hold until 2021.

The Fourth is special

But, Vail America Days “is a very special thing,” Vlaar said. The plans, in conjunction with the Vail Commission on Special Events and longtime event producer Highline Sports and Entertainment, will include fireworks and a kind of “stationary parade.”

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Vlaar said that instead of parade floats driving past people standing along town streets, the current idea is for those floats and exhibits to park around Vail and Lionshead villages. That way visitors can wander around the villages at their own pace and comfort levels.

The idea is to create a “fun, festive” environment, Vlaar said.

“We hope it will be different and memorable,” she added.

Vlaar said current plans also include a fireworks show. But, she added, the idea at the moment is to move the fireworks farther up Vail Mountain, so the show can be seen well from more areas of town. That way people can spread out and enjoy the show. Vlaar noted that Beaver Creek is also holding a July 4 fireworks show, with the idea of moving up the mountain so it’s visible from outside the resort core.

Of course, fireworks shows depend on fire danger in the area.

Councilmember Travis Coggin said he likes the ideas so far for Vail America Days.

“I hope we can get the floats to get creative,” Coggin said, adding that too much of the parade tends to be people loaded in the back of pickup trucks and throwing candy.

A stationary parade “could be a cool way to explore Vail,” Coggin said, adding that perhaps there could be photo booths next to the displays. Static displays also leave it up to guests when and where to go if they want to avoid crowds.

Coggin, who grew up in Vail, said he hopes that Vail America Days can continue to be a special event for people in town, adding that he has “vivid memories” of celebrations during his youth.

Socially distanced visits

In addition to Vail America Days, Vlaar said the special events committee is also working on ways to have people spend more time wandering around town. Expanded restaurant seating and retail space out into the streets can space out visitors and locals.

Vlaar said there could be hand-washing stations throughout town, adding that just how to do that is still being examined.

Councilmember Brian Stockmar suggested there could also be hand sanitizer dispensers scattered around town.

In addition to events, town officials are also looking at a rent relief program for small businesses in town. Town officials are also investigating ways to get more personal protective equipment to local businesses.

Councilmember Jenn Bruno said a lot of business owners and employees are excited about reopening. But, she added, a number of people are worried about personal safety.

“If you’re worried, (you shouldn’t) feel compelled to come in,” Bruno said. “Our community needs to find a way to move forward in a safe way.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at

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