Monument prepares fireworks show to ring in 100th anniversary year
Some say the year will begin in fire, some say in ice. Or — with apologies to Robert Frost — both.
Friday’s forecast calls for snow, but nothing short of end-of-days weather will stop 2011, and Colorado National Monument’s 100th anniversary, from dawning with a conflagration of fireworks.
The monument hosts its Centennial Fireworks Extravaganza Friday night, “and this is an all-weather outdoor event,” said monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo. “The only thing that would change our plans is if it became blizzard-like Friday night, or if we had lots and lots of heavy, heavy rain. But at this point, all systems are go.”
The fireworks display will begin at 8 p.m., shot from the Independence Monument viewing area on Rim Rock Drive. Because this is the first event of its kind, Anzelmo said she is uncertain where the prime viewing spots below the monument will be. At 6:45 p.m. Friday, there will be a test shot so viewers can gauge good viewing spots on the valley floor, Anzelmo said.
Fruita City Manager Clint Kinney said the city hasn’t established formal viewing areas, but recommends trying the viewing areas used for Fruita’s Fourth of July fireworks: the Kokopelli shopping area and the Colorado Welcome Center south of Interstate 70.
Free shuttles will take people to viewing areas on the monument beginning at 6:15 p.m. Friday and departing every 15 minutes until 7 p.m. Buses will leave the Dinosaur Journey parking lot, 550 Jurassic Court, in Fruita, and take people to the Saddlehorn Picnic Area parking lot. Return shuttle buses will begin leaving the picnic area parking lot at 8:40 p.m.
Those driving to the monument should plan to arrive early, driving up the west hill, Anzelmo said,
There will be parking at the Saddlehorn Picnic Area, the A and B loops of the campground and at the visitor center, which will be open until 10 p.m. Friday. Rim Rock Drive will close at 2 p.m. Friday to establish a security perimeter for the fireworks company, Anzelmo said, though the east and west hills of Rim Rock Drive will remain open. Entrance fees will be waived that day.
Viewing areas on the monument are around the Book Cliffs View shelter, at the visitor center and along Canyon Rim Drive.
Visitor center merchandise will be available for sale at the outdoor view areas — cash only, Anzelmo said — and in the visitor center itself, and will be 20 percent off all day. Some Fruita businesses will have tents at the viewing locations, including Pablo’s Pizza, which will offer $5 off coupons for a pizza at its Fruita restaurant, said owner Ted Okey. Ten percent of proceeds from pizzas bought with those coupons will be donated to the monument, Okey said.
Although fireworks will begin at 8 p.m., the event itself starts earlier. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Saddlehorn Picnic Area, there will be bonfires, marshmallow roasting and campfire sing-alongs, with marshmallows and roasting sticks provided. Illuminating the area between the visitor center, the Book Cliffs View shelter and Canyon Rim Drive will be 500 luminarias. That area will be closed to vehicles during the event, Anzelmo said.
Because Friday’s low temperature is expected to be around zero, visitors are strongly advised to dress in layers, wear warm clothes — including hats, gloves and boots — and bring blankets, Anzelmo said. They also are advised to bring flashlights and head lamps with fresh batteries, lawn chairs, personal snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Pets are prohibited.
“We’ve never done something like this before,” Anzelmo said. “It’s literally once in 100 years that we are launching centennial celebrations with a fireworks event. We’ll never forget New Year’s Eve 2010.”