Editor's note: Since this story ran in the June 28 issue of the Progress, organizers of this Fourth of July event updated their safety protocols in response to Governor Doug Ducey's new executive order on June 29.
Updated safety protocols include larger spaces for vehicles (20x20 spaces versus 12x20 spaces), mask requirements for both staff and guests (specifically, guests must wear masks when outside their vehicle), online contactless ticket purchases, and contactless ticket scanning from phones (or at-home printed tickets must be readily visible).
Returning for its seventh year, Scottsdale 4th will feature its traditional fireworks show on Independence Day but in a very untraditional setting.
This year’s fireworks show at WestWorld has been transformed into a drive-up-only, physically distanced event.
“It’s just got a completely different experience: It’s a pure fireworks show this year,” said Kerry Dunne, principal of R Entertainment and organizer of the event.
According to Dunne, Scottsdale 4th has the space to host about 1,000 guests safely, compared to the 15,000 people who attended last year’s fireworks show.
“Unlike some of the other cities, we have the opportunity to do it safely,” Dunne said. “If we couldn’t do it socially-distance safe with people in their cars and creating a safe area for every one of the cars that are coming to this, we would have never done it.”
Southern Scottsdale residents who might be thinking of going to Tempe’s annual bash can forget that: It’s been canceled altogether. Mesa’s fireworks-only celebration is identical to WestWorld’s in terms of social distancing measures – and will be held at the much smaller Fiesta Mall.
Each vehicle at WestWorld will be assigned a 16-by-20-foot space, and attendees must remain within their assigned space, save for using the restroom or purchasing concessions.
Concessions include hot dogs, chips, soft drinks, wine, beer, and spiked seltzers, as well as meat and vegan tacos from the Original AZ Taco Festival Truck.
The event will also encourage attendees keep a six-foot distance from other attendees while standing in line.
Dunne said while they’ll have social distancing markings for guests to follow and they’ll have security on-hand, they aren’t concerned about guests not honoring physical distancing.
“In doing all the pop-up movies that we’ve done so far, we’ve never had one problem at all,” Dunne said. “People are pretty responsible.”
“It’s a lot of self-policing,” Dunne added.
Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane issued an emergency proclamation on June 18 requiring people cover their nose and mouth in most public areas – like Scottsdale 4th.
While the Scottsdale 4th website and the event’s press release did not make mention at the time of publication of requiring guests wear masks, Dunne told the Progress that they “will follow the guidelines from the city of Scottsdale.”
“We will add it [masks] to our website; we just haven’t at this point,” he added.
In addition to fireworks, the Scottsdale 4th event initially offered live music by Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers, but the band has canceled all summer 2020 tour dates.
Also on the docket, preceding the concert, was a “Parade of Heroes” featuring nurses, doctors, police, fire, EMTs, restaurants workers, and more essential workers.
That, however, was also canceled.
Set against the McDowell Mountains, the WestWorld lot opens at 7 p.m., and the fireworks show will begin approximately 9 p.m.
The event charges $25 per carload.
Proceeds from ticket sales will go to notMYkid, a Scottsdale-based nonprofit dedicated to inspiring youth to make positive life choices.
“We have been on the frontlines of a growing mental health pandemic that has evolved from COVID-19, and this gives us a platform to make sure families know we are still here and available to provide support and guidance,” said notMYkid CEO Kristen Polin.
The money raised will benefit notMYkid’s Urgent Mental Health Rx Initiative, which supports youth and families in need of prevention, early intervention and behavioral health services.
“Since schools closed in March, we have moved at breathless speed to shift programs online and remain available to mentor families and help navigate their mental health needs,” Polin said.
“Youth need our support now more than ever, and we’re grateful for this platform to continue to educate and eliminate the stigma that often comes alongside substance abuse and mental health challenges,” Polin added.
Those forgoing Scottsdale 4th in favor of hosting their own fireworks show should take note of the fireworks restrictions the city has set in place.
While use of some consumer fireworks is premised by state law in Scottsdale, their use in and near many sensitive desert areas – including McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Pinnacle Peak Park and all properties located within one mile of these lands, remain illegal – and violators are subject to substantial fines.
The use of fireworks is also prohibited on all publicly owned properties, including city buildings, city parking lots, city parks, public schools, city streets, and more.
Violations are a civil offense punishable by citations and fines.
Aquatic centers are off-limits this Fourth of July, too.
While lap swim is open on July 4 at three of Scottsdale’s four aquatic centers — Cactus, Eldorado, and McDowell Mountain Ranch — pools are not yet open for public swim.
And those interested in spending the Fourth outdoors can do so at McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Pinnacle Peak Park, but only during certain hours.
The Preserve closes at noon on July 4, and Pinnacle Peak Park will be open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“We’ve had some folks that don’t feel comfortable about [Scottsdale 4th], and we get it. This is an unusual time,” Dunne said. “But we felt it was something that we wanted to do. We wanted to keep a little bit of the tradition going and provide a little bit of entertainment for families during this time in a safe way.”
“People are going to remember where they were on July 4th, 2020 — that’s for sure.”