In unique times, St. George adjusts July 4th festivities with largest fireworks show in city’s history

ST. GEORGE — The 244th celebration of the nation’s birth is just over a week away, and even though it will look and feel different than many Southern Utahns would like, events planned for this year’s Independence Day are designed to make it a celebration everyone will remember.

Canyon Media “4th of July Celebration” featuring country singer Michael Ray, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2019 | File photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Southern Utah’s country music radio station, 99.9 FM KONY Country, and its parent company Canyon Media have joined forces with the city of St. George to organize a “4th of July Celebration” for the past 33 years, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most activities have been scaled down this year.

Canyon Media General Manager Ben Lindquist told St. George News that in response to concerns from the community, the company decided to pivot on their plans from their annual concert extravaganza, and this year KONY morning show hosts Carl Lamar and Amy Chesley will be hosting an on-air pre-fireworks celebration of America to bring the community some patriotic spirit.

“We’re disappointed because this year we had a top-level performer slated for the Fourth of July,” he said, explaining that with the necessary restrictions on crowd sizes, the company couldn’t justify bringing in that level of performer and not allowing everyone who wanted to attend an opportunity to be there.

Lindquist said that beginning with Jason McNabb and Marshal Reign a decade ago, Canyon Media has been inviting talented musicians to Southern Utah for an outdoor concert to help celebrate July 4. They go bigger every year, with last year’s concert at Dixie State University featuring Michael Ray.

“We’ve shifted the focus this year,” Lindquist said. “Last year it was on entertainment and a huge community get-together. But for 2020, they’ve turned the attention to producing a patriotic tribute to the nation, focusing on what we love and share in common as Americans, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and all the chaos across the country during the past few months.

The “4 on the 4th” four-hour-long celebration will begin at 6 p.m. on KONY 99.9 FM and will feature commercial-free patriotic music, alongside inspirational quotes and messages from the community.

This still is a great country, and we want to recognize those people that came before us and put on a show with narration and choreography that will remember a great nation,” Lindquist said. “It’s kind of the classic example of trying to turn lemons into lemonade.”

The show is presented in partnership with the city of St. George, along with sponsors Dixie State University, Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center, Ken Garff St. George Ford, Andrus Transportation and the Lifetime Store. Listeners can tune in online, on iPhone or Android apps and smart speakers, or on the radio at 99.9 FM.

The program will act as a build-up to the largest choreographed fireworks in Southern Utah’s 150 year history. Instead of locations like Trailblazer stadium and multiple areas across St. George as in previous years, this time all the fireworks will be launched from atop Tech Ridge at the location of the old airport for the entire city to view. City organizers say this will be “the most spectacular show St. George has ever put on.”

Fireworks will begin launching at 10 p.m., choreographed to the music on KONY and set to conclude at 10:30 p.m. Following the show, the fun continues for listeners on their drive home.

Planet 105.1 FM morning show host Colleen Rue having fun with the crowd at Canyon Media’s “4th of July Celebration” featuring country singer Michael Ray, St. George, Utah, July 4, 2019 | File photo by Andrew Pinckney, St. George News

Canyon Media Show Coordinator Colleen Rue said the fireworks will be amazing this year. Because of the new launch site at Tech Ridge, 10-inch shells can be used instead of the 5-inch shells the city has been limited to in the past.

“We had an amazing fireworks show last year, but this year it’s 100% bigger shells, bigger fireworks,” she said. “They’re going to be huge.”

She added there are several phenomenal locations around St. George for the best viewing, including Common Sense Family Dentistry parking lot, the Pioneer Park / Sugarloaf area, St. James Park and downtown St. George at Vernon Worthen Park.

While there are no formal events planned at these locations, Rue said they could be great spots to have fun with family and friends, adding that organizers are strongly encouraging social distancing.

The holiday may be different this year, but she said it will have something for everyone to enjoy. The annual 4th of July parade — presented by Stephen Wade Auto Center — is traditionally a can’t-miss event, and all of Canyon Media’s radio stations will be there to celebrate. The city has approved a longer route this time time to promote social distancing and will now begin at 200 West on Tabernacle Street and head east toward Vernon Worthen Park, ending on 200 South. A map of the parade route can be found online here.

A special text help-line has been created for Fourth of July updates to keep the community informed.

“If they text 4th to 77000, they will receive all the text updates for all the things that are going on,” Rue said. “It’s such a crazy year, but everyone should have a good time.”

Lindquist said that while everyone has been forced to adjust to these unexpected times, it can still be a day to celebrate our freedom and he hopes the KONY radio show and fireworks display will help play a part.

“Hopefully, it will inspire people to want to be a little bit better and continue to make it a great place to live. Not just America, but Southern Utah.”

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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