LOUISVILLE, Colo. — Six months after the Marshall Fire tore through Louisville neighborhoods, the city moved forward with its annual fireworks display Monday night – drawing criticism from some still-traumatized residents.
A Louisville city spokesperson said the city acknowledges this is a difficult time for residents, but said “some find comfort in tradition, watching fireworks as they always have at the golf course, with their community.”
The fireworks at Coal Creek Golf Course drew a crowd of hundreds of people. There were no problems during the show.
Chief John Willson of the Louisville Fire Protection District said conditions for fireworks Monday differ greatly from the day of the Marshall Fire in late December. The wind isn’t nearly as high and grass is greener and less dry.
Willson said two extra crews from a neighboring district will be on hand tonight to help oversee the show and firefighters won’t allow it to continue if the winds pick up too much.
But the precautions were of little comfort to Joy Cassidy, who lost her home of 10 years in the Dec. 30 fire across the road in nearby Superior. She used to watch the Louisville fireworks from the end of her street, now she cannot believe they are moving forward.
“I was pretty shocked,” she said. “It just seems a little inconsiderate in my point of view.”
Cassidy said she hasn’t slept well this weekend, fearing that fireworks in the area might ignite another wildfire. “For them to be displaying fireworks on the Fourth of July is not only disrespectful, it’s also heartbreaking and unnerving,” she said.
Louisville Assistant City Manager Emily Hogan said the city works closely with the fire department to ensure the show goes off without a hitch safely. This year, Hogan said, the city scaled back its fireworks display to "focus on the community experience leading up to the fireworks.
"The intent of the celebration is to be inclusive and welcoming to the entire community as we heal from Marshall Fire together," she said. "We respect the diverse needs of our community members at this time."
> Watch: 6 months after Marshall Fire, Louisville celebrates Fourth of July
There could be an added benefit of the centralized show: fewer people participating alone with illegal fireworks, one of Chief Willson's concerns.
"One main reason that cities hold shows that are monitored and controlled by the fire department is to reduce the number of illegal private shows that do not have proper oversight and to reduce overall risk," Hogan said.
While some neighbors worried about the fireworks show, others took the holiday party as an opportunity to gather with neighbors.
"Our town has been through a lot this year and the 4th of July is always a really big celebration for us," said Louisville Mayor Ashley Stolzmann.
She said the city began asking neighbors about the fireworks show months ago.
"So even back in January when we had to decide whether or not to order fireworks, we started talking to families and everyone was like we have to celebrate Fourth of July together," she said.
People claimed a spot at Coal Creek Golf Course early. It was a chance for people to be together after a tough few months.
"With everybody distributed all over while their houses are getting rebuilt we need to have a place where people can come back," Stolzmann said.
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