After some deliberation, the city of Cortez has canceled the annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration.
City staff and the Cortez City Council agreed to cancel the show as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and social-distancing measures.
“Right now, my concern is having large populations in the park,” said City Manager John Dougherty during a virtual work session June 9. “They would be there all day. We don’t have a lot of businesses open, so we’d have a lot of people hanging around the park.”
The fireworks show – shot off from Parque de Vida – has been a Fourth of July tradition for decades. It previously was operated by Keenan Ertel, but the Montezuma County commissioner decided to step down from the position last year.
But city staff and the county health department thought the show would be to difficult to operate safely, Dougherty said.
“It’s unfortunate, another victim of COVID-19,” he said. “But the hospital’s not looking forward to any kind of large spikes at this point.”
The show also could strain the city’s budget, since local businesses are unlikely to contribute substantial funding. Typically, the city’s budget for the event is $3,500 (primarily for insurance costs). The Cortez Retail Enhancement Association had agreed to contribute $7,000, but Cortez still would an additional $5,000 for the show.
Councilors agreed with city staff’s decision.
“I used to be involved with setting it up and getting everything going, and by early morning there’s people already in there, and it’s bumper to bumper,” Councilor Orly Lucero said.
The City Council and staff also said that since many other neighboring areas have canceled their Fourth of July festivities, a Cortez event could attract visitors from all over the Four Corners.
Councilor Amy Huckins said that it was a sad but responsible choice.
“It’s all part of this whole package we’re in right now,” Huckins said.