LITTLETON, Colo. — For the past 14 years, Littleton's Main Street Block Party has been a big attraction for the small town.
But this year, the annual tradition was canceled, according to the City of Littleton.
The party's organizer, Greg Reinke, co-owner of Reinke Brothers costume and Halloween shop and president of the Historic Downtown Littleton Merchants (HDLM), said it's because South Metro Fire Rescue is charging him a fortune for permit fees he's never had to pay before.
Reinke canceled the event Monday shortly after the event's permit was approved.
“It came as quite a surprise to learn that the Block Party was canceled,” said Littleton Communications Director Kelli Narde. “We met with the HDLM President Greg Reinke on January 8 and on many occasions afterward to review the new permit, offer our staff assistance, and answer any questions. We had no idea a cancellation was being considered.”
The city and South Metro Fire had been working with Reinke since January and approved the permit for the block party, which includes tents, stages and fireworks. This was the first year South Metro was involved in the permitting process.
In January, Littleton Fire Rescue and South Metro United joined to become one fire department.
Anthony Valdez, South Metro Fire Marshall, said the organization deals with close to 200 special events from varying sizes.
This particular event, according to Valdez, fell into two categories that would be necessary under the adopted fire code: A special events permit and a pyrotechnic display permit – together amounting to $1,600.
Reinke was concerned over the permit costs for this year's event.
"Why is it $1,000 to see the fireworks show? Why does it cost that?" Reinke said. "Show me why you’re charging $1,000 for something another fire department can do for $150."
Reinke said Littleton Fire Rescue did not make him pay those same fees.
According to South Metro, the fees help cover inspections, standby units and a fire marshall on scene during the event.
In a release, the city of Littleton said the city council has "always supported the HDLM and the Main Street Block Party by providing police officers and public works employees at no charge."
In 2018, the cost of overtime for police, fire and public works to staff the event was $18,310, according to the city.
Narde said the event is still about a month away and thinks there's some kind of resolution that could work for everybody.
"I just think it’s a real shame for the citizens of Littleton who love the block party and for the downtown merchants," she said.
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