Fireworks on tap for tonight

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By John Severance


The Fourth of July celebration is on for now complete with fireworks at Overlook Park Thursday night.

In the past week, White Rock has gotten a fair amount of rain as monsoon season begins.

According to Weather.com, temperatures will be in the low 70s with a 20 percent chance of rain along with 44 percent humidity. Winds are expected to be light, around 6 mph coming out of the southwest.

That’s good news for fireworks organizers who have been shut down for the past two years due to wildfire and drought conditions.

Los Alamos Fire Department Deputy Chief Justin Grider said everything is a go for Thursday night.

“Everything is indicating that weather, wind and personnel are all cooperating,” Grider said. “If at 9 p.m. the winds kick up, we will reevaluate.”

Fire chief Troy Hughes added, “It looks good. The only factor that could cause us to cancel the fireworks would be the wind. The relative humidity is up. We have had some good moisture with the potential for more Wednesday night.”

Hughes also is encouraging people to attend the Overlook Park event and not set off fireworks at home.

“It should be a fun event with a lot to do for everybody,” Hughes said. 

In a press release last week, Hughes said he  hoped the public would understand the reasoning behind any last-minute cancellation.

“High winds would cause us to make a game time decision that we need to stop the display,” he said. “Our hazard analysis was based upon a maximum wind speed of 15 mph, so if we experience wind speeds above 15 mph, we will not allow the show to begin.”

Last week, Hughes stressed that many public safety and fire-wise considerations have been taken into account in the early planning stages.

“We worked closely for several months with members of the Kiwanis Club responsible for the fireworks show, especially with the extremely dry conditions that we have around the county right now,” he said, adding that it was not an easy decision for any of those directly involved to decide to proceed.

“We arrived at this decision only after painstaking work and the cooperation of many,” Hughes said. LAFD worked with other county divisions and experts in the field evaluating conditions surrounding Overlook Park, he said.

“We worked with explosives testing experts from LANL and conducted a thorough hazard analysis,” Hughes said, “Right now we’re completing a fuel mitigation project within the identified hazard zone to make the area even safer before July 4.”

The celebration was canceled two years ago due to the Las Conchas fire. Last year, the fireworks display was canceled just days before the event due to drought and weather conditions.

According to the contract between the county and Kiwanis, the county will receive no compensation but will provide in-kind services such as police, fire, transit, parks, traffic control and portable toilets.

The Fourth of July celebration at Overlook Park, which begins at 2 p.m., also will include plenty of music as a battle of the bands will take place (see page 5.) There also will be plenty of food vendors, sky divers as well as plenty of activities for kids. Admission is a $5 donation.

There are other July 4 activities around Los Alamos today.

There is a Firecracker 5K Family Run sponsored by the YMCA, which begins at 8 a.m. The Los Alamos Farmers Market will be open for business beginning at 7:30 a.m. in the Mesa Library parking lot. Bandelier will host a naturalization ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. White Rock will host a children’s parade, sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Last year, more than 300 children dressed in red, white and blue and an equal number of parents, grandparents, friends and family participated in an old fashioned children’s parade and carnival. 

After a brief welcome and flag ceremony beginning at 10 a.m., decorated bikes, tricycles, wagons, scooters, strollers will follow scouts and cub scouts carrying flags and marching behind a police car around the half mile block of Ridgecrest and Grand Canyon Streets beginning and ending in the parking lot of the LDS church, 366 Grand Canyon.