This year’s Red, White & Boom Independence Day celebration will be a fireworks-only event that will take place on the west side of Denison on Friday, July 3.
No games or competitive events will take place at Yellow Smoke Park this year.
The changes were made to meet the safety requirements concerning the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Viewers will be able to drive to the fireworks event and watch from one of several designated parking areas, according to Evan Blakley, executive director of the Chamber & Development Council (CDC) of Crawford County.
The fireworks display is put on by the City of Denison; the CDC is contracted to coordinate the event as one of the responsibilities of the tourism office.
The fireworks will be launched from a triangular plot of land owned by Denison Municipal Utilities (DMU) to the north of Denison’s wastewater lagoons and to the southeast of Bomgaars.
“We chose this location because there are no buildings close to the blast radius, and we could isolate vehicles far enough away,” Blakley said.
“So far we have two official locations where we will be directing people to park.”
Those locations are the parking lot at the former Adams Motors dealership and at the lot at the soccer fields near the community gardens on the west side of town.
“Having a drive-in event made sense to us in the interest of public safety and trying to abide by directives from the governor, which state that if you organize an event you must assure that attendees are staying six feet apart,” he said. “We felt that we lacked the ability to do that if we held the fireworks display at the traditional location – at Yellow Smoke Park on the beach.
The park would not work for the drive-in event, either.
“We felt holding the drive-in fireworks at Yellow Smoke would not be very efficient or enjoyable because it’s hard to get a good line of sight from any of the parking areas there and, as we’ve seen every year, the parking areas fill up quickly,” Blakley said.
“We explored the racetrack and fairgrounds area but, due to increased safety protocols by the fireworks company and our fire department, that was not able to be approved because of the safety radius required by this type of fireworks.”
Finding a community location that meets the safety requirements was a challenge, but the selected site meets the needs, he said.
The former Adams Motors car lot will be able to host several hundred cars, Blakley said.
If the grounds are dry, additional parking will be allowed on the grass around the lot.
CDC staff members and volunteers will direct parking at the location.
Blakley said he is still looking for a nonprofit organization to guide traffic at the soccer field parking lot.
“We are seeking a nonprofit – one that would like to make a good amount of funds for a project they are working on - to guide traffic and keep things safe and under control there,” Blakley said.
“That will be an amazing viewpoint, as well. We may even be able to hold more vehicles there than we can at the car lot.”
Grass strips around the soccer fields, which are owned by DMU, may also be used for parking, he said.
“We will start parking cars at around 9 p.m. Please don’t show up before then,” Blakley said. “Try to get parked before total darkness falls. Around 10 p.m. is when the show will begin.”
Cars should be parked only in the designated areas.
“Let the volunteers guide you,” he said.
“We are asking everyone to stay in your car. We do not want crowds congregating anywhere near the parking areas.”
Attendees should make sure to take care of bathroom visits before the event, he said.
KDSN radio will handle announcements and provide music for the fireworks display.
“We’ll be encouraging everyone to tune in to KDSN that evening,” Blakley said.
The CDC is still searching for a third parking location.
Attendees should not park in the lots of businesses that are not open to visitors for the event, he said.
The Bomgaars lot will be closed and Arrowhead Drive will be marked as a no-parking area.
The area near the launch site will also be restricted.
“Please pay attention to the announcements and park only in the designated areas,” Blakley said.
“Some businesses may be hosting viewing parties for their own employees in their parking lots, and certain homes on the west side of town will be able to view from in town, if they have a direct line of site, but that will be up to those individuals.”
Blakley said the CDC staff is happy that the fireworks show will take place this year.
“I know some communities have canceled outright. We didn’t want to do that,” he said. “We’re thankful to local law enforcement and the City of Denison and (Crawford County) Conservation for working with us on an alternate plan for Red, White & Boom this year.”