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Four years ago, Gateway Civitans President Liza Gomez Akley approached Bloomfield Mayor Scott Eckstein about hosting a Fourth of July event. Akley suggested a pet/foot parade and games for children at the city's Chamblee Soccer Fields.

Eckstein and then-City Manager David Fuqua liked the idea, but had one event they wanted to include – a fireworks display. The challenge the city faced was where to shoot off the fireworks and when to do them. "We didn't want to compete with the City of Farmington's display on July 3 or Tommy Bolack's on July 4, so we decided to round out the holiday with a third display on July 5," Eckstein said. "It has proven to be pretty popular with the community."

"We consider it the 'Grand Finale" of the holiday," Eckstein added with a smile.

Acme Pro Pyro, part of Acme Discount Fireworks in Idaho, provided the display for that first Fifth of July Fireworks and has created a partnership with the City of Bloomfield that benefits them both. "I watched Acme Fireworks set up for this year's event and once again they provided a fantastic show," Eckstein said. "When the event was over, I asked Jared Jensen if it could possibly get any better, and he said 'Well of course. We always have to up our game.'"

This year's display had more than 3,000 shells, 1,200 of which were in the Grand Finale, Eckstein added.

Safety is, of course, a priority for Acme and the city. Finding a safe place to shoot the fireworks from while getting the display high enough in the air for people to enjoy was a problem – until Foutz and Bursum Construction stepped in. "Foutz and Bursum shared our vision for a community fireworks display and allows us to use their gravel yard on Sullivan Road, which overlooks the San Juan River and the Vereda del Rio San Juan Park and the soccer fields, which are great places to see the display," Eckstein said.

The Bloomfield Police Department and the Bloomfield Fire Department play a major role in keeping the event safe. The fire department, assisted by Districts 5, 6, and 9 from San Juan County and the Bureau of Land Management, maintained positions throughout the city to be available for emergencies.

With the ever increasing number of people who enjoy the fireworks, Mayor Eckstein said he is confident the event will continue to grow. "We'd like to have more vendors at the soccer fields. With (local band) Flatwater playing great music, we'd like to have additional vendors that will bring people to the soccer fields to enjoy the fun before the fireworks begin."

Putting together an event like the fireworks display takes time – and a lot of effort. Tonya Eckstein, the mayor's wife, has been actively involved in the event from the beginning. "I learned early in life that anything worth doing or having is not going to be easy," Tonya said. "Nothing happens on its own and if you want it to work, effort has to be put into it. Everyone involved works hard and gives it their all."

"I would never not help with this," Tonya added. "I do it because it brings out the child in all of us. To see my friends and neighbors excited about something here in Bloomfield makes it all worthwhile. To be at the Riverwalk and hear people cheering all the way from the soccer fields when the fireworks are going off just makes me smile."

The cost of the fireworks is primarily paid for by sponsors of the event. This year's donations, given by major sponsors and many Bloomfield residents, was more than $16,000 – something the Eckstein's appreciate. "The biggest challenge of the Fifth of July Fireworks Display is finding sponsors in a difficult economy," Tonya said. "Businesses want to help, but it has been a rough couple of years. Even with the downturn in our economy, sponsors and residents have continued to help. All of us working together is what makes it work."

The Gateway Civitan Club held a raffle that raised more than $3,000. The club plans to give the money to the fireworks display fund. The donations and money from the raffle will cover almost all of the cost of the fireworks. The remaining balance will be taken from the city's Lodgers Tax fund. A 3% Lodgers Tax is assessed to those who seek lodging in Bloomfield and that money is for events that bring in people from out of town and for projects that promote tourism, according to Brad Ellsworth, the city's Finance Director.

Social media was full of praise of the fireworks. "Our family enjoyed the fireworks show," posted Shirley Olbert of Bloomfield. "My young granddaughter was so impressed and called it "The Revenge of the Fifth!"

"It was an awesome show," posted Amanda Lobato. "I was especially impressed with the prayer before the show started. I saw three shows this year and this one was the best. Thank you and God Bless America."

Patsy Enriquez posted, "Bloomfield should be very proud of (having) the best fireworks show in the Four Corners!"

It is comments like those – and countless others – that keep Scott and Tonya Eckstein committed to providing a Fifth of July Fireworks display that not only makes its residents proud, but attracts people from throughout the Four Corners.

"It's always a blast," added Mayor Eckstein with a grin.


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