Incline Village’s Red, White and Tahoe Blue celebration in jeopardy |

Incline Village’s Red, White and Tahoe Blue celebration in jeopardy

Fireworks are seen over Lake Tahoe in this file photo.
Tahoe Daily Tribune file photo |

The fate of this year’s Red, White and Tahoe Blue celebration centered around July 4 will become more certain in the coming days.

Growth over the years combined with late turnover among the volunteers who spearhead the multi-day celebration have put this year’s event on shaky ground.

New organizers, who have been working feverishly the past month to turnaround the large-scale event, have until June 1 to submit finalized and complete documents to Washoe County. County staff, per conditional approval granted by Washoe commissioners in early May, have until June 11 to accept or deny the plans.

Red, White and Tahoe Blue’s (RWTB) growth over the years has required the event to go through the county permitting process, primarily to ensure safety, Assistant County Manager Dave Solaro noted during a May 8 commissioner meeting.

Recent years have included a parade, fireworks display, live entertainment, a veterans recognition and other smaller events over the course of multiple days leading up to and through July 4.

It now draws thousands of people to the small community on Tahoe’s North Shore.

The permitting process this year, Solaro noted, has been a drastic departure from previous years and from the typical special event permitting process.

This year’s application was submitted in mid-March and it was woefully incomplete. RWTB had experienced turnover in leadership, leaving a board with varying degrees of experience and expertise.

County staff set up a meeting to coach RWTB through the process, effectively creating a checklist of safety and health concerns that needed to be addressed. Additional information was submitted later in March, but it still fell short of what was needed.

County staff then requested additional information by April 1. According to Solaro, it was submitted April 11.

In the past Washoe County has required the permits no less than 90 days from the event.

The primary purpose of the permitting process is to ensure public safety. Consequently, questions concerning organizers’ ability to guarantee that safety was among the primary concerns expressed by county staff and commissioners.

“We must make sure that the people who are coming into Incline Village are protected, and that parade creates some amazing concerns for all of us,” Commissioner Marsha Berkbigler, whose district includes Incline Village, said at the May 8 meeting.

Officials also are concerned with RWTB’s financials — a sticking point for Commissioner Vaughn Hartung who clarified through questioning that RWTB had yet (as of May 8) to reimburse the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office the $6,000 owed for the 2017 event.

Into this difficult situation stepped community members Jeff and Kirstin Corman.

The Cormans have taken the lead in trying to turnaround RWTB on short notice. Jeff noted during the May 8 commissioner meeting that they had managed to pretty much eliminate the RWTB deficit in the nearly one week that they had been involved prior to that meeting.

RWTB also has scaled back the event a bit, canceling the live entertainment that occurred at Village Green — which one RWTB official estimated to be a $30,000 expenditure.

Commissioners ultimately granted conditional approval to RWTB, providing it meet the June 1 deadline and providing staff approves of the final plans.

At this point the event is all or nothing, meaning that if county staff finds the proposal lacking in any area the whole event will be shelved.

Should that occur, the Incline Village General Improvement District could step forward to try and salvage a few of the smaller events, said Indra Winquest, IVGID parks and recreation director.

In particular, Winquest said the veterans event and “Beer & Brats” would be priorities for salvaging.

Hopefully, though, Winquest said it won’t come to that, adding that he is optimistic RWTB will receive approval.

The Cormans could not be reached Thursday ahead of press deadline.

If RWTB does receive approval from the county, the next battle will be fundraising. According to the RWTB website, the nonprofit has only raised $52,625 of its $225,000. The belief is that some are waiting to donate until RWTB receives county approval. Donations could start rolling in after approval.

“We’ll survive if we don’t have a fireworks display. Unfortunately that is a possibility but hopefully folks in the community will step up and make their donations, and it is an overwhelming amount of work for an all-volunteer group,” IVGID Trustee Tim Callicrate said at a May 20 meeting ahead of the board’s unanimous approval of a conditional memorandum of understanding.

As IVGID Vice Chairman Philip Horan pointed out, none of the parties involved want to see the event shelved.

“Nobody is looking to try and not have this event.”

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