Jul 052011
 
Authors: Erin Udell

Fort Collins was abuzz Monday as residents across the city brought out their grills and lit up their sparklers for the Fourth of July, a holiday marked by the
summer heat and a vast array of city-sponsored events.

Some gathered in Old Town Square for live music and a beer garden, while others played in the 30th annual Old Timer’s Baseball Game and local golf tournament.

And while many these events were spread throughout the Fort Collins, the day really began and ended at City Park.

More than 1,000 people flocked to the park to participate in the annual Firecracker 5k race before returning later that night for a professional fireworks display — a popular tradition that brings in an estimated 20,000 viewers.

Hordes of people walked through the car-lined streets, carrying blankets and pushing strollers before settling on grassy knolls around City Park Lake and listening to the sounds of Fierce Bad Rabbit and the Fort Collins Symphony.

While the crowds may have bothered some people, lifelong Fort Collins resident Jen Zaiger said that’s always been her favorite part.

“In a way, it’s kind of like a Fort Collins reunion,” Zaiger said. “I get to see people I haven’t run into in years.”

While this year marked Zaiger’s 21st summer at City Park, her husband, Josh Zaiger, was a frequent visitor of Loveland’s fireworks display.

“This is probably my sixth year here,” Josh said. “The best show is here by far.”
According to Marshall Thornberry, the city’s parks department crew chief, Fort Collins Fourth of July fireworks date back to the early- to mid-1970s.

This year, City Park’s display was funded by donations from Poudre Valley Hospital and entities like the Office of Emergency Management worked to ensure event safety.

“This was a pretty good year,” Thornberry said, adding that last year’s show saw a lower turnout because of rain.

“There’s always some stuff downtown,” Thornberry added. “But as far as what we do at City Park, that’s the big finale.”

The finale is a favorite of many attendees, including Josh and Jen Zaiger, who brought their 1-year-old son Jude to enjoy his first Fourth of July at City Park.

“You just know when the fireworks finale is,” Jen said. “And I think that’s what makes a good show.”
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News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at news@collegian.com._

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