July 4th Fireworks May Still Be A Go

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A recent report about Payson's Fourth of July fireworks being canceled may have been a little premature.

The possibility of canceling the annual display was discussed several weeks ago, but the final decision will not be made until 10 days prior to the event, Bill Schwind, parks and recreation director, said.

Fire Chief John Ross said his department is monitoring the weather, environmental conditions and the status of the forest on a daily basis, along with the Forest Service.

"Folks understand and we will have alternatives. Three years ago, we had to cancel the fireworks and everyone still had a good time. This is the most extreme fire danger we have had since 1905," Ross said.

Schwind said the Fourth of July festivities will still feature family fun events such as tug-of-war, a tortilla toss and sack races. The Rotary Club will have its duck race on the big lake and there will still be a concert at 7 p.m.

Among the alternatives to a fireworks display under consideration are a laser or other light show, possibly something from a barge in the lake.

"We have up to 10 days (before July 4) to officially cancel. If we get the weather between now and then, it is up to the fire experts and town council to make the decision (on canceling)," Schwind said.

The contract with the fireworks company, Fireworks International, for a $10,000 show, has not been canceled, Schwind said.

Fire Marshal Jack Babb said the information he gave The Arizona Republic was something he and the fire chief had discussed. He said if a change has been made, the decision may have been made in a meeting he was not privy to.

"I know the chief, the parks and recreation director and interim Town Manager Udall, are working together to make sure the town has a safe Independence Day and summer," Babb said.

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