Be aware: fireworks to be tested Sunday in Rifle

Alex Zorn
Citizen Telegram

Rifle residents may get startled by loud explosions Sunday but should not be alarmed. The city will be testing a new site for the Fourth of July fireworks display at approximately 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

“We want residents to be aware that we will be testing a new launch site for Fourth of July fireworks on Sunday,” Parks and Recreation Director Tom Whitmore said. “The goal is to see if the new site will be viable for Centennial Park viewing.”

Rifle’s firework show had been launched from the Rifle Middle School football field for a number of years, but concerns about the nearby facility’s roof compelled Whitmore and the rest of the parks and recreation staff to look for possible alternatives. The site to be tested will be at the Rifle High School soccer field, thought to be a more isolated and controlled location. That theory will be tested Sunday.

“The goal is to continue to provide an optimal viewing site at Centennial Park, where the public can attend the Symphony in the Valley performance and view the fireworks show from the park,” Whitmore said in a statement.

Aside from ensuring that the new site is safer and provides more protection for nearby buildings, the goal of the test will be to guarantee that those watching fireworks from Centennial Park will have a good view for the entirety of the show, scheduled for July 3.

“It may be obvious that the fireworks shows will work fine at Rifle High School or it may become obvious that it won’t work,” Whitmore explained. “Our goal is to have a display that can be viewed anywhere from downtown.”

Since the fireworks display had been launched from Rifle Middle School for a number of years, the city and Parks and Recreation Department knew exactly how it looked from different vantage points throughout downtown. They do not yet know how it will look if launched from Rifle High School.

The test will last around eight to 10 minutes with a combination of consecutive fireworks and fireworks with short intervals as spotters communicate their recommendation.

“We are dong the test to find out if people can view it from different spots,” said planning director Nathan Lindquist. “The purpose is to get feedback.”

Those helping test the new site will be stationed throughout Rifle, but the main objective will be to ensure that the fireworks can be effectively seen from Centennial Park.

Lindquist added that the relocated show will cost around $10,000, the same as its predecessors, with a small increase for the test. If the test is canceled Sunday, the city plans to conduct the test between 7:30 and 9 p.m. Monday.

Whitmore said that if it determined that Rifle High School will not work as a potential launch point for the firework show, Plan B is to work out a way to have it back at the middle school.

City staff and members from several community boards will be on site at Centennial Park to watch Sunday’s test. If the public wishes to offer input from their respective vantage points around town, please email observations by Feb. 17 to Whitmore at Comments can also be shared on the Rifle Parks and Recreation Facebook page.