GRANGEVILLE – Drop a dime, win a fish? Not this year.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, the Grangeville Volunteer Fire Department (GVFD) will not be operating the fishpond at Border Days this year.
Of its other activities, GVFD will have a minimal presence in the parades; however, one thing is sure to go:
“We’re still putting rockets in the air,” said Chief Bob Mager, emphasizing the July 4 fireworks show, held at the Grangeville High School football field, will go as scheduled.
“The fire department made one of the hardest choices it’s ever had to do,” he said, “not setting up the fishpond or being in all three days of the parade. We’ll be in one parade, July 4.”
“The reason,” Mager continued, “is due to the spikes in coronavirus showing in southern Idaho and in the nation; we did not want to be responsible for anyone getting sick. We just feel we cannot create the safe zone needed in that area [regarding the fishpond] to protect my people and everyone else.”
The fishpond is a Border Days staple, started in 1982 as a fund-raiser that goes toward operating the GVFD Christmas Truck, as well as an annual department scholarship offered to graduating seniors of firefighters. Kids drop dimes and quarters into a water trough, hoping to land them in the concave bottom of a pop can to win a goldfish.
While this event takes a rest for 2020, the annual fireworks show is set for Saturday, July 4, starting at 10 p.m. Whether the field will remain open for spectators to set up chairs to view the event is still up in the air.
This could change with a governor’s directive, or if more COVID cases surface, according to Mager. However, unlike the pond area or in the public gathering around to see GVFD equipment before and after parades, the GHS field allows for people to be more spread out and better practice social distancing. The department is keeping contact with the school district on the matter, which at this point is still OK with people gathering at the field for the show.
“We’re still moving forward with that, and we’re reminding them, if they choose to go there, to please social distance,” Mager said. “But we want to stress that if they don’t feel comfortable with that, there are lots of places in town to watch the fireworks from where they can feel safe.”
With the pond’s closure and the department’s reduced parade presence, that will impact this year’s donations that fund next year’s events, including the 2021 fireworks show. The event’s major sponsors have been really helpful, he said, “and we’re so thankful for all of them,” but he asks the public to keep donations in mind and find a GVFD fireman or send them to P.O. Box 637 in care of Grangeville Fire Association, Inc.
“No matter what, we’ll put those rockets in the air,” Mager said. “Everyone who donated last year deserves to see what their money is going for.”