Originally Published: June 10, 2012 12:01 a.m.
PRESCOTT - Short of a multi-forest-fire scenario or high-wind conditions come July 4, the City of Prescott plans to go ahead with its annual Independence Day fireworks display at Pioneer Park.
Every June, city officials field questions about whether the annual Fourth of July event will take place - especially as temperatures rise, and conditions get drier.
And as she has in previous years, Special Events Manager Becky Karcie is telling callers that Prescott has no plans to cancel its fireworks.
At the same time, she is emphasizing that the city will take numerous precautions to prevent a fire from starting.
Those precautions will include a wide array of actions both before and during the fireworks display.
Prescott Fire Marshal Eric Kriwer said the fire department regularly uses water trucks to wet down the area around the fireworks staging site at Kuebler Field before the evening event.
Karcie added that crews also do "fire-abatement" clearing of the nearby brush.
In addition, a full crew of firefighters will be on hand that evening, along with at least two fire engines, to extinguish any sparks that might ignite in the Pioneer Park chaparral.
"We will have people staffed strategically around the shoot site," Kriwer said, noting that the number of firefighters ranges between 10 and 40.
Kriwer said the fire department also regularly has a person in charge of permitting the fireworks shoot to ensure safe conditions.
Even so, both Karcie and Kriwer allow that circumstances still could cause the city to reconsider the fireworks event.
"The only way it would truly affect us is if there were multiple fires all around the state, and it took away our fire department," Karcie said. "Of course, we would never put Prescott in danger if we felt there was a problem."
High winds or a microburst on July 4 also could force either a cancellation or delay in the fireworks.
"As the Fourth of July draws closer, we could have a change in fire danger," Kriwer said.
But for now, Karcie said plans are in the works for Fireworks Productions of Arizona to do an $18,000 fireworks display similar to the one that took place in 2011.
For the past eight years, the city has centered its July 4 celebration at Pioneer Park (1200 Commerce Drive) in northeast Prescott.
Along with the fireworks, which will begin at 9 p.m., the city also will conduct a full schedule of activities at the park, beginning at noon Wednesday, July 4. "We always try to have new things," Karcie said. This year, the new features will include a zipline, "hamster balls" similar to toys that hamsters run in, and a Roswell Rocker spaceship ride.
The event also will bring back consistent favorites, such as seven water slides, bungee trampoline jumping, climbing walls, carnival games, electric swings, train rides, a craft tent, food booths, and three bands providing live music.
While admission is free for the fireworks and bands, participation in the carnival rides and water slides will require a wristband ($12 for pre-sale, and $15 at the gate).
Prior to the event, wristbands are available at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St.; Grace Sparkes Activity Center (824 E. Gurley St.); Freedom Station (2992 N. Park Ave., Prescott Valley); and all Fry's supermarkets.
Free parking and shuttle rides are available at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 3700 Willow Creek Road.
The city allows coolers, strollers, and shade canopies, but Karcie suggests that people do not bring their pets to the event.
Karcie estimates annual attendance at 10,000 to 12,000, and sometimes as high as 18,000.
The event costs the city a total of about $50,000, but Karcie said it recoups the entire amount through wristband fees, concessionaire rentals, and sponsorships.