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Fourth of July celebration will return to Cortez

Fireworks are back after last year’s pandemic cancellation
Fireworks on July Fourth light up the sky over Parque de Vida in Cortez in 2019. Some sales of fireworks will be limited because of the extended drought in the San Juan County, New Mexico. (The Journal file)

The traditional Fourth of July fireworks show will return to Cortez this year at Parque de Vida.

The Independence Day celebration on Sunday, July 4, includes live music and a beer garden, with the fireworks scheduled to be set off about 9:15 p.m. by the Cortez Fire Protection District.

“The area around the Cortez Recreation Center is a secure place for the Cortez Fire Protection District to launch fireworks, and the surrounding parks provide a safe space for a celebration for our community,” said Chief Jay Balfour.

The Cortez Rotary Club will have a beer garden from noon to 8 p.m. just north of the Centennial Park pond. At 6 p.m., Southwest Colorado Concerts will host a free show featuring the Community Band at the Centennial Park shelter.

City staff members are setting up portable toilets and extra trash cans, along with the usual public safety measures, such as road closures and parking lots.

Cortez will have a Fourth of July celebration at Parque de Vida. Fireworks begin around 9:15 p.m. (Courtesy of city of Cortez)

This year’s event is extra special, said Cortez Mayor Mike Lavey, after last year’s Fourth of July was canceled because of the pandemic.

“It has been two years, and we are so delighted to bring it back,” Lavey said. “We’re looking forward to a great holiday of togetherness and inclusiveness.”

Cortez is famous for a spectacular fireworks display, he said, and the spacious park attracts thousands of people from all over the Four Corners.

Family barbecues, volleyball games and Frisbee are common throughout the park district, and people arrive early in the day to set up shade shelters.

Lavey said the public should practice the usual pandemic precautions of washing hands, not mingling outside social groups, getting vaccinated and wearing masks if they choose to.

Balfour encourages the public to attend the fireworks display in the park and not set off their own during this time of severe drought and fire danger.

“We hope that our citizens and those from the surrounding communities choose to spend their July 4 in our great parks system enjoying the show,” Balfour said. “Hopefully, this amazing display along with the current fire restrictions will help people make the safe decision to not set off their personal fireworks. It is a very dry year, and we are lucky to have a place like Parque de Vida that we can produce a show for everyone.”

The city will be closing the basketball courts and skate park at 8:30 p.m. for safety, as those recreational areas are too close to the fireworks ignition area to allow people to be there.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com