Fourth of July revelers traveling up the Highway 55 corridor will encounter a few changes at popular party spots this year.
The communities of McCall and Crouch are striving to offer visitors and residents a more family-friendly vibe.
In Crouch, the tradition of setting off fireworks in city center was started for a good reason: to draw the celebration away from wildfire-prone lands nearby.
But escalating debauchery over the years has spurred the city to lean away from a party that's become known as 'Chaos in Crouch.'
Business owner Greg Simione organized this year’s celebration. The city is making a special effort to include families in the fun, he said.
"We’re going to have a family-friendly area, specifically for children to be able to light off fireworks -- sparklers, fountains, things that stay on the ground.”
Other areas of downtown Crouch will be roped off for alcohol consumption, for listening to a band -- and, yes -- there will still be a place for adults to set off their fireworks.
Fireworks in Crouch from 2014.
Farther up the highway in McCall, local authorities will enforce an alcohol ban on North Beach -- a notorious party spot every Fourth. The ban was contentious within the city. It got the final nod from county commissioners in June.
Lt. Dan Smith of the Valley County Sheriff’s office says local authorities are taking the ban seriously:
“Anybody trying to bring in alcohol will be cited initially and will be kicked off the beach," Lt. Smith said. "If they return, they’ll be arrested for trespassing."
As in Crouch, McCall will have a designated area for alcohol consumption outdoors.
Apart from the Fourth of July festivities, Lieutenant Smith said traffic on Highway 55 corridor will be hectic as thousands head north. He advises motorists to take it slow.
"It doesn’t do any good to get in a hurry. It’ll just cause an accident. We’ve had an uptick in accidents over the past few days.”
Accidents on Highway 55 left travelers at a standstill last weekend Friday and Sunday afternoons.
Lt. Smith said Idaho State Police will have extra officers on patrol on Highway 55 over the weekend.
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