Folks in Pagosa Country deserve a good time.
It was a tough June here — tough on residents, on a lot of businesses, on the brave souls called in to deal with our fire emergency.
As of tomorrow, July 5, we’ve had a month of wildland fire. We’ve seen huge clouds of smoke and ash rise in the skies 15 miles east of us, looking for all the world, at times, like a volcanic eruption. We’ve observed three fires, part of a “complex,” grow to an astounding collective size, with more than a thousand personnel called to the area to battle the blazes. We’ve watched as our friends in South Fork faced the prospect of the destruction of their town.
We woke many mornings to find the valleys in Pagosa Country filled with smoke, only to have it clear out when the inversions lifted and winds blew in the right direction. When the winds came from the northeast, however, we found ourselves wrapped for a couple days in a heavy blanket of smoke and ash.
All the while, very little rain has fallen. Lightning, yes, and a few small fire starts. The National Forest and Southern Ute Tribe went to Stage II fire regulations this week and it is expected the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County will up their bans next week. People are being prepped for the chance that rains, when they fall steadily, could cause flooding in areas damaged by fire, and will wash ash and debris into the local streams, rivers and lakes.
It’s been a rough month.
So, it’s time to have fun.
There are plenty of visitors here this week and, while the entertainment agenda for the Fourth of July holiday is abbreviated by cancellation of the annual fireworks display, there’s a lot to do and we need to take advantage of it.
The Rotary Fourth of July Parade will, as always, make its way through the downtown area at 10 a.m., providing the best, and perhaps only, such parade in the Four Corners. The arts and crafts festival draws crowds to Town Park and Centennial Park. The carnival holds forth on the athletic field across from Town Park, and downtown Pagosa is the place to be. There is a band concert on the Fourth, featuring stirring patriotic music. There are theatrical performances on the schedule. There is still enough water in the San Juan to enjoy the channel downtown.
The Red Ryder Roundup brings crowds to the rodeo arena for three performances this holiday and crowds will be treated to two concerts following rodeos, performed by one of the country’s top, up-and-coming bands.
Take care with the holiday barbecues — the fire danger is very real. Douse all coals until they are cold. Don’t do any open burning of any kind.
Though it is a sacrifice for many, the use of fireworks by individuals this year is totally out of the question; fireworks can’t be part of the fun this Fourth. Don’t set them off and, further, if you see or hear someone setting off fireworks, call the authorities. A fire in populated areas in Pagosa Country could be catastrophic.
We need to make our intrepid tourists who found their way here for the holiday feel welcome. We need to thank the firefighters who are working the West Fork Complex fires; theirs is a difficult and dangerous task.
And, if the wind doesn’t blow the wrong way — if the smoke and lightning stays away, and the creek doesn’t rise — we’ll enjoy ourselves as we take stock of our freedoms and rights on this meaningful holiday.