Tonto Apaches Cancel Fireworks

Fireworks show in Pine still set for Saturday launch

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Tuesday afternoon, the Tonto Apache Tribal Council jumped on the bandwagon with Payson and canceled its annual fireworks display.

"We just decided it was not worth the risk," Tribal Chair Vivian Burdette said.

Monday, as the fire danger continued to mount, leaders from the Town of Payson decided to cancel the town's fireworks show.

Every year, the fireworks cause several small fires, Fire Chief John Ross said earlier this week. This year, he said he didn't think the show was worth the risk.

"Last winter was one of the driest on record for Arizona, the third worst since 1895," he said. "Since minimal rainfall has occurred this spring and summer, moisture in the smaller trees, bushes and grasses approximate those in 1990, the year of the Dude Fire. This means the smallest spark can ignite fuels that virtually explode into flames and can spread quickly."

As of press time, the community of Pine was scheduled to be the bright spot in an otherwise darkened July 4 sky. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Pine school and the aerial displays will begin between 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Organizers in Pine have left the final decision to launch the fireworks, which could change at any time, in the hands of Pine-Strawberry Fire officials.

Fire Marshall John Varljen said his department has taken all of the necessary precautions to ensure a safe, disaster-free display.

"If there's an emergency somewhere and we're short of equipment, we'll cancel the fireworks," he said. The department also will cancel the show if winds exceed 10 mph.

"Conditions are really good up here," Varljen said. "The danger isn't any worse for fireworks than any other year."

Sunday, Payson will go ahead with its plans for a family fun day at Green Valley Park. The fun will begin at 11 a.m. with games at the Green Valley Park amphitheater.

"We'll have tug-of-war, three-legged races, a tortilla toss, gunny-sack races, and a new game this year, the old leap frog," recreation coordinator Beth Kreider said.

The Rim Country Rotary Club will be selling hot dogs and sodas near the museum that afternoon, and the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce will have watermelon slices for sale.

At 2 p.m., as the games wind down, the Rotary Club will launch its annual Duck Race at Green Valley Lake. Folks adopting the cute little quackers will have a chance at $12,500 in prizes.

Igor's Jazz Cowboys, a posse of musicians from the Phoenix area, will perform Dixieland, Ragtime and Western Swing Sunday evening. The band will take the amphitheater stage at 7 p.m., and during the concert, members of Santa's List will be selling glow ropes to light up the night.

For the latest information on fire conditions, restrictions or Fourth of July festivities, contact your local fire department, the Payson Ranger District at 474-7900, or the Payson Parks and Recreation Department at 474-5242, ext. 7.

Holiday closings
All banks, post offices, shipping offices, government offices, schools libraries and the Payson Roundup will be closed Monday, July 5 in observance of Independence Day.

Safeway and Bashas', however, will be open Monday, and Roadrunner Rubbish will provide regular trash pickup. Waste Management will provide trash pickup the following day.

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