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New norm: A firework-free Independence Day chock full of events

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A crowd watching fireworks. ADOBE STOCK


For the third year in a row, there won’t be any professional fireworks in Big Sky’s horizon this Fourth of July.

In 2021, several fire districts in Gallatin County banned fireworks ahead of July Fourth due to a record-breaking dry summer. Since, southwestern Montana has seen hotter and longer summers, despite being known for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it warm season.

“The community has done a great job of embracing that,” said Dustin Tetrault, the Big Sky Fire Department’s deputy fire chief. He noted ways the town has adjusted in recent years.

He mentioned one sacrifice made by the Big Sky Ski Education Foundation: the organization halted sales of fireworks near Conoco gas station after 2022.  

Other organizations like the Arts Council of Big Sky have decided to focus time and resources toward events like live music.

“We feel like our job is to put on the event, put on the music and have a great time in the park,” said Brian Hurlbut, executive director of the Arts Council. “We’re not really in the business of putting on fireworks, I guess, anymore.”

Hurlbut looked into possible fireworks alternatives like coordinated drone shows. But with a price point of more than $75,000, a drone show didn’t seem feasible, especially when they had planned successful and safe Fourth of July events in the past.

The Tiny Band, DJ Jenn N Juice and DJ Take A Chance, will perform at 6 p.m. for the Music in the Mountains’ July Fourth event in Len Hill Park.

Other new traditions are happening in the community as well. Stacie Mesuda, public relations manager at Big Sky Resort, spoke about a Fourth of July Pool Party on July 5 at the Huntley Lodge.

“Local DJ Chet Turnbull will play from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m., the pool will be stocked with floats, beachballs, and pool games, and a poolside pop-up bar will serve cocktails and mocktails,” Mesuda wrote in an email. Big Sky Resort traditionally has not hosted fireworks for the community.

In the absence of professional fireworks displays, problems with personal fireworks have come up. Last year at the Music in the Mountains event, Hurlbut remembers fireworks going off in nearby parking lots.

“For our event we don’t allow any personal fireworks in the park or around the event because of the safety hazards,” he said.

As for a future of Independence Days without the familiar sizzling colors in the sky, Tetrault explained that many states across the West have made the transition.

“The risk that comes along with it isn’t worth the gain,” Tetrault said.

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