Thu, Feb. 27

Cottonwood readies for 13th annual fireworks extravaganza

During the afternoon of Independences Day, all action moves to Cottonwood and one of the few places you can still see a live fireworks show in the tinder dry north.

Everyone will want to be in place for the giant 4th of July Fireworks show, but there is plenty to do al all day while waiting for the sky explosions.

All the fun will be at the Cottonwood Kids Park at 12th Street and Cherry in Cottonwood.

At 4 p.m. the Independence Day Extravaganza begins. There will be kids games, a giant water slide, inflatable rides and watermelon eating contests.

Free food will be provided courtesy of Fry's Food & Drug and prepared by the Knights of Columbus from 4 p.m. until about 6 p.m.

Wrist bands will also be available for purchase on site for access to the kids games.

Soft drinks, glow necklaces and other items will also be available for purchase during the event.

The fireworks display over the Fair Grounds is free. The parking concession benefits a youth organization is $1.

7:45 p.m. The countdown begins for Northern Arizona's finest fireworks display. There will be music, presentations, and a patriotic salute by the VFW Color Guard.

At 8:45 p.m. find a place, grab a blanket or lawn chair and settle in for a spectacular 35-minute light show full of booms and ahhs.  

Come down, enjoy the day, have a picnic on us, listen to the music and partake in the activities that the Cottonwood Parks and Recreation Department has put together for you and your family.

Admission is FREE! Fair parking only $1 and benefits a local non-profit youth organization.  

 This event is co-sponsored by: Fry's Food & Drug, Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce, NAWS, Verde Valley Fair Association, Verde/Clarkdale Kiwanis and Knights of Columbus.

By Jon Hutchinson

Staff Reporter

COTTONWOOD -- There are vendors in the Verde Valley where one can purchase fireworks, but there is no where that you can fire them off legally.

Shooting fireworks is banned by the City of Cottonwood as well as most other cities and towns regionally, by all National Forests and by Yavapai County.

The State of Arizona has permitted the sale of "safe and sane firework." Certain criteria need to be met in order to sell the explosives. State law says a person needs to be 16 years old to purchase fireworks, but the city has made that minimum age 18 years old.

But, regardless of the purchasing limitations, you are never allowed to discharge fireworks locally. Like the City of Cottonwood, most other cities and town have also banned the use of fireworks.

Cottonwood Fire Marshal Rick Contreras says, "The Arizona Fire Marshal's Association has established criteria and most communities are in line with what we are doing."

"We have met with the fireworks companies and they want people to be safe as well."

The issue is magnified by how tinder dry conditions are this year. The Dosie Fire northwest of Prescott is still burning, but is now is 90 percent contained at a cost to date of $6.4 million. Five other wildfires continued to burn across the state, with major events in New Mexico, California and Colorado.

We have had critical fire weather past couple weeks and even use of coal barbeques is not safe.

Contreras says there have been no l enforcement measures so far this year, there have had incidents in the past.

"Bad things have happened in the past."

Only licensed certified shooters like the one used for the city's professional display are permitted to discharge fireworks.

Cottonwood has organized crews to surround the event near the fairgrounds this 4th of July, with other agencies assisting. The surrounding area will be sprayed to moisten the conditions around the historic slag pile.

"We will take all the precautions necessary. My real concern is not with the city fireworks, but with the fireworks over which we have no control."
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