No parade, no floats, no fireworks.
While it may be tough to imagine a Fourth of July celebration in Aspen without said traditions, that is what city officials are doing right now. The city has canceled the annual parade and fireworks in an effort to limit public gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of Aspen’s busiest holidays of the year, the Fourth of July at its peak can see up to 35,000 visitors in town, city communications manager Mitzi Rapkin said.
“Clearly, we cannot encourage activities that promote this level of group activity,” Rapkin said Wednesday. “It would be irresponsible for the city to plan or encourage activities that call for large groups of people to gather; that would be unsafe and also impossible to manage.”
In addition to the parade and fireworks, the city also canceled its subordinate Fourth events, which typically take place at Wagner Park and in recent years have included a bonfire and a DJ.
Aspen Chamber Resort Association is working closely with the city to program alternative activities for this year’s celebration. "We do have a couple of fun things up our sleeves,” ACRA President Debbie Braun said in an interview earlier this month. Braun said Wednesday that plans are still under wraps and would be shared at a later, to-be-determined date.
The city of Aspen is considering closing streets in the core to help with social distancing and creating zones in the core with staffed entrances and exits to comply with gathering numbers and offering tables and chairs on select closed streets in town to promote takeout food and enjoyment.
While Pitkin County has not allowed fireworks on the Fourth of July in recent years due to wildfire concerns, this year’s explosives were canceled specifically to prevent public gatherings, Rapkin said. The old-fashioned parade, however, is a longstanding Aspen tradition.
For events that require a permit, the current public health order allows up to 50 people to gather, Rapkin said.
“We are poised to react swiftly if the health orders change in the next month,” she said.