These Utah cities are using drones instead of fireworks for Fourth of July

Stock image | Photo by Crissy1982/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Following tradition, on the night of the Fourth of July, there will be bright, colorful lights decorating Salt Lake City’s sky. However, at least in city-sponsored events, those displays won’t come from fireworks — but from 150 drones.

Salt Lake City started the new drone show tradition in 2023, a year after the City Council voted against a $25,000 budget item for holiday fireworks. Since then, officials have continued to cite air quality concerns, and the new tradition stuck this year again, for a second consecutive time.

This year, the city event will take place Friday at Jordan Park from 8 p.m until 10 p.m. The drone show is scheduled to start at 10 p.m.

“While fireworks provide entertainment, they also produce harmful particles. Drones don’t do that,” said Lynze Twede, events manager for Salt Lake City’s Public Lands Department. “Drone shows can also be different every year.”

Aside from the air pollution considerations, the city took into account fire and noise concerns, Twede said.

Aerial fireworks for sale at the Bluff Street Smithś Food and Drug, St. George, Utah, Dec. 29, 2021 | Photo by Chris Reed, St. George News

After collecting feedback from some of the 6,000 Salt Lakers that attended Jordan Park’s Independence Day celebration in 2023, which Twede described as a “big hit,” the city is planning on extending the drone show and making it four times brighter.

According to a news release, the show will run for 10 to 15 minutes “with a mesmerizing display of lights, choreographed formations of iconic local imagery, and aerial acrobatics.”

Those who miss it can catch the Pioneer Day display on July 24 at Liberty Park.

Though most large Fourth of July events in Utah are expected to end with a firework show, other municipalities have started to ditch the combustive displays for drones, or at least in conjunction with fireworks.

Millcreek also hosted a 150-drone show at its Independence Eve Big Air Show on Wednesday. Park City’s Forum Fest, which was scheduled to stretch from Wednesday through Saturday, is expected to feature both drone shows and fireworks.

Park City has spent over $24,000 in drone shows in 2024, according to records from the State Auditor. Salt Lake City, which hosted two shows in 2023, paid $55,500 to a drone-show provider that year, plus at least $18,500 this year.

Though the Salt Lake City Council has opted not to use fireworks in its celebrations, private fireworks displays are still allowed in Salt Lake City, but only in certain locations designated by the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Those caught violating Salt Lake’s firework restrictions could get stuck with a $1,000 fine.

Written by ALIXEL CABRERA, Utah News Dispatch.

Utah News Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Utah News Dispatch maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor McKenzie Romero for questions: [email protected]. Follow Utah News Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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