By Alan Gionet

GLENDALE, Colo. (CBS4)– Some of the first fireworks of the 4th of July weekend went off Friday night in Glendale’s Creekside Park and after the Rockies game at Coors Field. In Glendale, people gathered side by side in chairs and on blankets close together to “ooh and ahh” at the display.

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“I’m happy to be able to get out and be around people, that’s for sure,” said Ricksette Anderson, who brought her daughter and nephew.

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Last year fireworks shows were largely scrapped. “It was a rough year last year with BLM going on and COVID and everybody being confined and not feeling free to go anywhere,” added Anderson.

Across the park, Joe Diaz, a pyrotechnician for Tri-State Fireworks worked with a team to set things up.

“It feels pretty good to be back out here… If people didn’t want to come out and watch the fireworks then we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Their business was off by about 80% last year.

“We were out golfing a lot,” he joked.

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This year, they have about 40 shows booked around the 4th and many crews working. That’s about the same number in a pre-COVID year. Some things are the same, others, different.

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“Been trying to keep things as safe as possible. Anyone on our crew we make sure they’re all vaccinated.”

Many shows are changing this year. Aurora’s fireworks usually have music and food booths. Not this year. It will be just fireworks watching. Planning for fireworks shows begins long before. In Denver Independence Eve in Civic Center Park was canceled for the second year in a row. Executive director Eric Lazzari noted that fundraising starts about a year out to raise the 300-400 thousand dollars needed. Planning the event itself, six to eight months out.

“We had to make some really hard decisions back in February and March on whether or not we were going to cancel the event or do an event we knew we could do even with COVID restrictions,” said Brooke Spain, Parker’s special events and sponsorship coordinator, “We wish we had a crystal ball but we didn’t.”

Back at that point noted Spain, crowds were limited to 175 people.

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So they decided to up ticket prices for parking in Salisbury Park and created three zones, Red, White and Blue. The Red are the closest. Three hundred carloads of people can sit there for $30 dollars a car to park. White, a little father and cheaper and Blue even more so. But tickets are no longer available. Red and White sold out early and Blue had to be scaled back and halted this week due to recent heavy rains and the potential for damage to fields.

“We usually have 8,000 to 10,000 people out here. Rubbing elbows and being close to each other.”

But not this year. People who watch the fireworks can tune into KYGO, which will broadcast the show.

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Next year they hope to be fully back. Hopefully, that pandemic will be over and people even closer. Americans, in spite of differences, do want that.

Alan Gionet