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Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast at CU Boulder canceled this year

Boulder Fourth of July celebration expected to return in 2022

Fireworks soar into the air during the 2014 Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast at Folsom Field on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. Organizers confirmed the spectacle has been canceled amid COVID-19 concerns for the second consecutive year, but that it is expected to return in 2022. (Jeremy Papasso / Camera file)
Fireworks soar into the air during the 2014 Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast at Folsom Field on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. Organizers confirmed the spectacle has been canceled amid COVID-19 concerns for the second consecutive year, but that it is expected to return in 2022. (Jeremy Papasso / Camera file)
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Folsom Field will not be filled with the booms and glow of fireworks this year, as Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast again has been canceled because of concerns about COVID-19.

For almost 80 years, the University of Colorado Boulder’s stadium has been home to the city’s Fourth of July celebration.

The local tradition, which began in 1941, normally features music and a grand firework show over the football field, encouraging residents of all ages to come and watch the festivities. Last year, the closely packed environment presented a problem for organizers as they tried to reconcile public safety and having a safe event.

Even as business capacities increase and vaccination rates rise, the event had to be canceled earlier this year amid the need to plan it and keep residents safe. However, organizers expect to launch fireworks from Folsom again in 2022.

Dan Kingdom, owner of WK Real Estate, the event’s primary sponsor for the past 20 years, said that the decision to cancel happened before gathering orders in Boulder County started to lift.

“At that time, there were a lot of restrictions and people couldn’t gather and there were so many unknowns,” Kingdom said.

Events like Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast take a lot of time to plan, far longer than one might expect, he said. Typically, organizers are planning this show throughout the year. That’s part of the reason why the choice to cancel it happened so early.

Looking back, he said the decision they made might have looked a little different if they had more time.

“In hindsight now, it would seem like we could have a show and have a great event,” he said.

Kingdom said that he is disappointed that the fireworks show won’t go forward. Since his childhood, he said that he’s had plenty of nostalgia for the event.

“I have very fond memories from being a kid myself and sitting in the stadium and having singalongs and the music and then the fireworks show. It’s a Boulder tradition,” he said.

Still, city officials said that other Fourth of July celebrations this year will soon be announced.

“The city (offers) a variety of safe, family-friendly Fourth of July celebration options,” said Sarah Huntley, director of communications for the city.

Additionally, organizers hope that residents can take comfort in the fact that Ralphie’s Independence Day Blast will return next year.

“The intention is to have the best show that we’ve ever had next year,” Kingdom said.