On Tuesday, several community leaders gathered at the Mammoth Lakes Arts Center to talk about the 4th of July.
The idea being, I suppose, that we’re all getting routed this winter and that July 4th weekend is perceived as an ideal point in time to regroup.
Unfortunately, July 4th falls on a Wednesday this year. We can’t catch a break.
Mammoth Lakes Tourism Executive Director John Urdi said that the last time the 4th fell on a Wednesday, the Town had 37% occupancy the weekend before and 58% the weekend after.
Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce President Brent Truax said the goal this year is to promote more business in town during the 4th, and to elongate the weekend by not only promoting existing events, but creating new ones.
Truax encountered resistance when he suggested that the Town might wish to look at ditching the Crowley fireworks show in favor of an in-town fireworks show based in the Village at Mammoth.
As envisioned, the Town might close roads in and around the Village and shoot fireworks off from three different locations.
After the meeting, Dion Agee, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Company, said that recent technological advances may make it possible to shoot off some “medium profile” fireworks and make a Village fireworks display a bit more impressive.
Truax posited that an in-town show would capture more business.
Skeptics such as John Mueller said yes, an in-town show would capture more business … for the Village, at the expense of businesses like his (John’s Pizza Works).
The counter-argument to Mueller was that a Village show, if done in collaboration with the Neighborhood Company (which spent about $9,000 on its own fireworks show last year) would cost the Town less money. The Town could then use the savings to invest in other events.
Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commissioner Bill Sauser disagreed with the idea of cannibalizing a successful event to create an untested one.
“I don’t want to lose what we have before we have a new thing in place,” he said. He also questioned whether changing the location of the fireworks would make a damn bit of difference. “They can spend all day in town no matter where the fireworks are. Most people don’t go to the lake ‘til after 8.”
“It’s not the fault of the fireworks [being] in Crowley that local businesses haven’t captured the business [of the people who are already here],” concluded Sauser.
Paul Rudder said the Town might not have a choice in the matter. With the impending airport litigation settlement, fireworks may just be considered an unnecessary frivolity. Partnering with the Village may be the only way to have a fireworks show of any kind.
The discussion will resume at Tuesday’s Recreation Commission meeting at 4 p.m. in Suite Z.