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Gazette Premium Content Fire danger torches Fort Carson's plan to celebrate July 4

By Tom Roeder Published: July 2, 2013

Fort the second year in a row, Independence Day is on Army time.

Fort Carson's planned celebration of America's break from England was initially planned for July 3, a proactive move that accelerated the holiday's timing - moving to the left in Army speak.

But fire danger torched that plan and now the Army will celebrate freedom on Aug. 31, which in addition to being Roman tyrant Caligula's birthday, is also the independence day for Kyrgyzstan and Trinidad and Tobago.

The planned "Fourth on the Third" event at the post included fireworks, country music and entertainment for children. The community will still get a chance to celebrate, but they're have to wait a few weeks.

"Really with the county fire restrictions it was an easy decision," said event coordinator Josh Gwinn, who heads Fort Carson's Directorate of Family Morale Welfare and Recreation.

In recent years, the post has opened its gates to the community for the celebration, giving Pikes Peak region residents a venue to celebrate Independence even as local governments cancelled events as the economy turned sour.

"It's great to be able to have those folks from off-post come on-post and interact with our soldiers and families," Gwinn said

But fire has derailed those celebrations for the past two years.

In 2012, Fort Carson delayed July 4th rites until Labor Day after the Waldo Canyon fire roared into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, destroying 347 homes and killing two people. This year, the Black Forest fire blackened more than 14,000 acres north of Colorado Springs and destroyed more than 500 homes. With the hills remaining tinder-dry, post officials decided to wait for better weather this year, too.

Gwinn said the fireworks show contractor, hired months in advance, has again agreed to the delay.

Beverage and food vendors and bands have also signed off on the delay.

The festival at Iron Horse Park on the post will now kick-start the Labor Day weekend.

Gwinn said he's expecting a big crowd at the belated celebration.

Gwinn's job at the post is to help military families make the most of their off-duty time and the community event plays a big role.

"It's a great event for them to have a good time," he said.

Celebrating freedom in August could become a new tradition at the post. Gwinn said leaders are mulling the move because early July is traditionally hot and dry in the Pikes Peak region, conditions that don't work with fireworks displays.

"That's one of the thing's we're looking at," he said.

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