There will be not one but two fireworks displays in the city on the Fourth of July, but residents won’t be able to watch them from one of the most popular vantage points.

The Copper Sky Recreation Area, traditionally a gathering place for family activities and the fireworks on the holiday, will be closed at 6 p.m. to prepare for the southern display. There will be no Great American 4th celebration in the park this year, a casualty of social distancing guidelines at a time when coronavirus cases are surging in the state.

To expand the visibility of fireworks to more homes and backyards, a second display will light up the skies in the northern part of the city, the city announced Wednesday morning. In addition, the shows will feature high-altitude pyrotechnics. The 15-minute displays will occur simultaneously at 9 p.m. The northern location has not been disclosed, but it will not be a location that allows car or walk-up traffic.

The fireworks will cost about $25,000, about $5,000 to $7,000 more than last year’s display, according to Nathan Ullyot, the city’s director of community services. The event will be well under budget with the city not incurring the expenses – portable toilets and trash collection, for example – associated with the traditional celebration at Copper Sky, he said.

Ullyot said he knows many Maricopans will be unhappy about the lack of daytime events and a nighttime gathering spot at Copper Sky to view the show.

“I’m sure they will be frustrated,” he said. “I am sure they will be disappointed. This is the best decision out of bad choices.”

With the risk of further community spread of the virus, it would “not be responsible to open the park and sanction a gathering,” he said.

Another factor in the decision, Ullyot said, was concern that a day-long celebration at Copper Sky with food vendors and entertainment in the park, and fireworks afterwards, would draw hundreds or thousands of out-of-towners with other cities and towns in the state canceling their own festivities.

The city will be suggesting home activities and contests for residents on its social media pages in the coming days and weeks. Possible ideas include backyard BBQ contests and virtual cornhole competitions, Ullyot said.
“Even though we aren’t able to celebrate the 4th the way we normally would, we want to provide a little piece of normal for our residents,” he said. “We’re hoping our residents will be able to see the shows from anywhere in the city. We will also connect through social media and photo contests, with some pretty sweet prizes.”