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 Timerâ€™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 â€” 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 thatâ€™s always been her favorite part.
â€œIn a way, itâ€™s kind of like a Fort Collins reunion,â€ Zaiger said. â€œI get to see people I havenâ€™t run into in years.â€
While this year marked Zaigerâ€™s 21st summer at City Park, her husband, Josh Zaiger, was a frequent visitor of Lovelandâ€™s fireworks display.
â€œThis is probably my sixth year here,â€ Josh said. â€œThe best show is here by far.â€
According to Marshall Thornberry, the cityâ€™s parks department crew chief, Fort Collins Fourth of July fireworks date back to the early- to mid-1970s.
This year, City Parkâ€™s display was funded by donations from Poudre Valley Hospital and entities like the Office of Emergency Management worked to ensure event safety.
â€œThis was a pretty good year,â€ Thornberry said, adding that last yearâ€™s show saw a lower turnout because of rain.
â€œThereâ€™s always some stuff downtown,â€ Thornberry added. â€œBut as far as what we do at City Park, thatâ€™s the big finale.â€
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.
â€œYou just know when the fireworks finale is,â€ Jen said. â€œAnd I think thatâ€™s what makes a good show.â€
News Editor Erin Udell can be reached at email@example.com._