North Lake Tahoe Nixes Fourth of July Fireworks in Favor of Drones Due To Environmental Impacts

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo credit: JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)

For Americans across the country, the Fourth of July means a day with family and friends. It means good food, flyovers, block parties, parades, and, of course, fireworks. This year, however, Independence Day is going to look a little different at Lake Tahoe. They’re abandoning fireworks in favor of drones.

Sure, they’re loud, but to us, fireworks are a symbol of celebration. They’re a beautiful display of light and color in the night sky. To natural spaces and the wildlife that live there, however, fireworks can be deadly. Now, no one intends to cause harm with fireworks. But the sad truth is, they can be incredibly harmful to flora and fauna native to the area.

With that in mind, North Lake Tahoe is taking a step in an eco-friendly direction. Their annual Independence Day celebration was canceled in both 2020 and 2021. The celebration will take place this year, but with drones instead of fireworks.

North Lake Tahoe Resort CEO Tony Karwowski stated that while Independence Day should be celebrated, it must be done so in a safe way. “Celebrating Independence Day with entertaining light shows continues to be important to our communities. However, our priority is to balance that with the need to take care of Lake Tahoe and reduce the risks,” Karwowski said.

“The decision to move forward with drone light shows in Kings Beach and Tahoe City has widespread community support,” Karwowski continued. “And [it] is well aligned with our region’s commitment to environmental sustainability and destination stewardship. We are excited to support something new, and will gather community feedback after the shows to determine the level of satisfaction with the new celebration”

Lake Tahoe Swapping Fireworks With Drones With the Environment in Mind

While not the same as fireworks, the new drone show is sure to impress. With the help of Great Lakes Drone Company, Lake Tahoe will provide visitors with custom performances with choreographed music. Over 100 drones will take flight above Lake Tahoe for the show.

Organizers are doing everything they can to ensure the shift to drones won’t cause a dip in entertainment. Ultimately, however, the decision to abandon fireworks came with the environment in mind. North Tahoe Business Association executive director, Alyssa Reilly, said that for the local business community, the environment comes first.

“After two years without fireworks, the North Lake Tahoe business community expressed their desire to bring back a responsible way to celebrate Independence Day,” said Reilly. “Our staff and Board felt this was the right time to put our community first by prioritizing sustainability, fire safety, and local wildlife.”

Tahoe City Downtown Association executive director, Katie Biggers, added that the benefits of drones far outweigh the beauty of fireworks. “Fireworks come with their own list of known environmental impacts,” Biggers said. “Including noise pollution, impacts to the lake, and increased risk of fire at a time when the wildfire risk is already so high.”