INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Following several tumultuous years during which it was questionable whether the festivities would happen at all, a new coalition is taking on the responsibility of the July 4 fireworks historically spearheaded by Red White and Tahoe Blue.
The change is part of a broader division of responsibilities for a multi-day celebration that become too unwieldy for a single group of volunteers. By dividing up those responsibilities, the organizations involved hope to ensure the continuation of the largest event in Incline Village.
"It's about saving the fireworks for the community," said Jeffrey Corman.
Corman and his wife, Kirstin, stepped up in 2018 to help save the Red White and Tahoe Blue event, which was in serious jeopardy of not happening.
"We're streamlining the process," Corman explained of the current effort.
As part of that new process, Red White and Tahoe Blue will be dormant this year and return next year with the goal of bringing back a July 4 parade.
"We're not walking away, not dissolving," Corman said. "We're just going dark to regroup."
A new coalition, largely led by the Incline Community Business Association, will now spearhead the fireworks show. Other members of the coalition include the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau, Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation and Incline Village General Improvement District.
The fireworks are the centerpiece and primary draw of the July 4 festivities in Incline Village.
"The intent is to have these fireworks separate from anything else that might be going on," said Andy Chapman, president and CEO of the Incline Village Crystal Bay Visitors Bureau.
As Chapman explained, the hope is that by creating a coalition that is more solidified and has more resources than the volunteer-run Red White and Tahoe Blue, they can avoid some of the chaos that plagued the event in recent years.
As previously reported by the Tribune, the event's growth over the years combined with turnover and a lack of leadership at Red White and Tahoe Blue snowballed into a near debacle last year.
The applications to Washoe County last year were not submitted until March. In addition to being late, the applications were incomplete.
As Assistant Washoe County Manager Dave Solaro told the Tribune at the time, the process was a drastic departure from previous years and from the typical special event permitting process at the county level.
After they learned about the situation, the Cormans stepped in to try to save the event. They went to work fundraising and attempting to complete all the applications as quickly as possible.
Ultimately the annual parade and the fair on the Village Green were scrapped.
Approval for the fireworks came just days before July 4.
Officials made it clear the process would not be repeated this year.
"I'm just going to tell you this is not going to happen next year," Washoe County Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler said leading up to the 2018 event.
After the 2018 event, organizers start talking about how to make the process run smooth in 2019.
"There was no way we were going to go through that again," Corman told the Tribune.
Eventually, the parties involved landed on the current plan, with Red White and Tahoe Blue taking a year off and the coalition taking over the fireworks.
Chapman said the plan is intended to be a long-term one, although the structure could change in the future if it needs to.
IVGID, as it did last year, also is helping with permitting some of the other activities including the veterans event, "Beer & Brats" and others.
And while the district is part of the coalition spearheading the fireworks, Indra Winquest, IVGID director of parks and recreation and community services, made it clear during the February board of trustees meeting that the district will not be paying for the fireworks.
With an estimated cost for the fireworks ranging from $100,000 – $110,000, the coalition is about 60 percent funded, according to Chapman. Fundraising efforts for the remaining amount needed are about to kick off.
"I think we have entities that have indicated they are ready to step up," Chapman said.
One of the final sticking points that was recently resolved was the use of the barges, which Red White and Tahoe Blue will be selling to the coalition in exchange for having the debt from last year's event paid off.
Overall, Chapman, Winquest and Corman are optimistic about the new structure moving forward.
"It started as a community event," said Corman, "and it's going to remain a community event."
More information on the fireworks will be available at a newly constructed website: http://www.ivcbfireworks.org.