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New Year’s Eve on Telluride’s Main Street


This year, the town’s New Year’s Eve celebration will look a little different than years past.

After three years of launching the annual fireworks display from the Idarado tailings pile near the East End, the town will be launching the fireworks a little closer to home, atop the New Sheridan Bar rooftop deck.

Although the celebration is organized by the town, the Telluride Fire Protection District is contracted to run the fireworks portion of the event.

The fire department has spent several months planning for the new location and is using a different type of firework than years past, “close-proximity fireworks,” which are designed for use near crowds, according to David Wadley, the battalion chief of the Telluride Fire District.

Wadley said that these types of fireworks often are shot off during concerts and football games.

“There is nothing exploding in the air, people don’t have to worry about their pets or safety,” Wadley said. “They burn going up, they are not very big and they don’t explode, they are small as far as fireworks go.”

Wadley said the show was designed specifically with the town in mind.

“We brought in some specialists that worked on the Salt Lake Olympics (in 2002) and do things for other major concerts and designed it specifically for that location (atop the bar),” he said.

Although close-proximity fireworks are considered safe, and are used with crowds in mind, Wadley said they are taking every precaution.

“We have firefighters with thermal imaging cameras on each rooftop, and we have firefighters in full gear on, standing by,” he said. “We have observers surrounding the block.”

The fireworks are a fairly recent addition to Telluride traditions and the event was created more out of a reaction to New Year’s Eve’s festivities already happening in town, according to Town Manager  Greg Clifton.

“With all the craziness and open containers and fireworks (in previous years) a decision was made to put some structure into the whole thing and make it fun and make it family friendly,” Clifton said.

The celebration will include a countdown emceed by Mayor Sean Murphy, music at the courthouse steps and free hot chocolate to keep everyone toasty.

Clifton gave “major props” to the Telluride Fire Department for overseeing the fireworks display.

“We are having so many discussions to make sure things stay safe here,” Clifton said. “These are not the kind of fireworks that blow up or make loud noises. It is a visual thing not a loud thing.

“We like to remind people to please be aware that open containers are unlawful as are personal fireworks and we will be enforcing.,” he said

Clifton added that all cars need to be cleared on Colorado Avenue between Aspen and Fir Streets by 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

Early in the evening, Telluride Ski Resort will be hosting its own tradition with the New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks.

From 6:30-7:30 p.m., members of the ski school program will ski and snowboard down the Misty Maiden run toward Mountain Village and the Telluride Trail toward town.

The torches are actually road flares from the Department of Transportation, said Shannon Gibbs, spokeswoman for Telluride Ski Resort.

The tradition has taken place since 1972 and was originally started by ski patrollers, according to Gibbs.

“It is just a really festive and fun event, especially when you see the fireworks go off,” Gibbs said. “It is something unique and different to see, and a great way to celebrate the New Year.”

The fireworks can only be seen from the Town of Mountain Village and will be launched around 6:30 p.m.

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