The only official fireworks show slated for the Coachella Valley this Fourth of July at a tribal casino in Rancho Mirage has drawn hundreds of spectators parked in cars along Bob Hope Drive despite near-triple-degree temperatures, but caused no fires.
The 5th annual Fourth of July Spectacular began at 9 p.m. at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort in Rancho Mirage in 97-degree heat amid social distancing and other protocols aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, according to Kate Anderson of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
The event comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday encouraged — but did not mandate — that fireworks shows slated for more than a dozen California counties seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases be canceled to deter crowds from gathering in public, including those slated for Riverside County. The tribe, as a sovereign nation, is not obligated to heed the governor’s recommendations or orders.
Off-road vehicles could be seen on both sides of Bob Hope Drive, in swathes of unpaved desert, searching for places to park and see the fireworks show.
The only other large-scale fireworks show in the region was canceled in Big Bear, in San Bernardino County, another of the 19 counties on the governor’s “watch list.”
For guests who visit the casino in person, the fireworks show will be a “drive-up” event, with required social distancing and mandatory face covering.
Guests going to the casino will have their temperatures checked prior to entering, the tribe said.
Synchronized music will be played on KPSI-FM (100.5) during the event. Parking and admission is free.
Riverside County Fire Department spokesman Rob Roseen told City News Service there were no reported fires in the Rancho Mirage area related to the fireworks display. Riverside County fire provides fire services to Rancho Mirage.
Meanwhile, the skies above the Coachella Valley were lit up with illegal private fireworks displays.
“We have 51 active fires in the county but none in Rancho Mirage,” Roseen said, adding he didn’t know if any of the 51 fires were fireworks related.
While the casino may be the only physical place to congregate this Independence Day to view a large fireworks show in the Coachella Valley, other entities are planning unique substitutes.
In Palm Desert, city officials canceled the city’s annual fireworks bonanza due to the pandemic, but invited residents instead to tune in to one of two radio stations — KDES-FM (98.5) and KKUU-FM (92.7) — for a community-wide patriotic music party at 9 p.m.
“The goal is to let music and freedom ring out under the stars for all to hear,” according to a city statement. “Residents and visitors are invited to post pictures of their listening party experiences on social media using the hashtag #UnitePalmDesert.”
And in Indio, city officials are asking Valley residents to fly their American flags en masse over the Fourth of July weekend, and to post pictures online with the hashtags #StarsandStripes and #Indio4thofJuly.
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