Embracing Change and the Environment this Fourth of July


By Katie Biggers

As Tahoe residents, we all experienced the devastating impacts of the Caldor Fire in 2021, as well as other massive wildfires in recent years, and witnessed firsthand the profound effects they had on our businesses and homes. Whether the fires directly impacted our own homes, our livelihoods, or the beautiful landscape that drew us to this area in the first place, it’s become an annual and truly unfortunate part of life for people in the mountain west. I remember the journey of driving back to the East Coast, my car packed with belongings, leaving behind my home on the West Shore after being evacuated for the Caldor Fire. Many of us were forced to temporarily leave, and some businesses are still grappling with the aftermath of the smoke and fires. Every summer, in the back of everyone’s minds, visitors’ and locals’ alike, the question lingers when and if the smoke will settle in, or, worse yet, if another evacuation will happen. The aftermath of these, and future wildfires, has forever altered life in our beautiful mountain town.

The decision made by the Tahoe City Downtown Association (TCDA), alongside our neighbors in Kings Beach and Incline Village, to replace traditional fireworks with an aerial drone light show is a testament to the unwavering commitment of North Tahoe toward Sierra stewardship and sustainability. By eliminating the risks associated with fires and environmental pollution, and by significantly reducing noise pollution, the entire North Shore of Tahoe is supporting our local businesses, contributing to the preservation and wellbeing of the planet, as well as the lake we all love so much.

In addition to fire safety, one reason why the TCDA made the switch to drones is that they are more economical, as the cost to put on a fireworks show over Lake Tahoe in Placer County has drastically increased in recent years. Additional costs include a new, $20,000 best management practices fee to clean up Lake Tahoe afterwards to pay for scuba divers and patrol boats. This does not include insurance, which has massively increased, or the price of fireworks themselves, which have gone up 85% to $65,000 from $35,000.


This year’s Fourth of July in Tahoe City is set to be an exciting town-wide celebration with a massive increase in the number of drones. The 300-drone show will launch at dusk on July 4 at Tahoe Marina Lakefront Lodge. The festivities begin at 12 p.m. at Commons Beach and includes kids activities and live music until 10 p.m.

As the preparations for this Fourth of July celebration unfold, TCDA is leaving no stone unturned to ensure a flawless and elevated experience. We will provide a comprehensive list of recommended viewing locations, and the audio for the show will be broadcast through our local radio station, KTKE 101.5 FM, catering to those enjoying the spectacle from boats and paddleboards.

While we deeply appreciate the sentimental value that fireworks hold in many families’ traditions, the introduction of the drone show presents a sustainable alternative. Although it may not replicate the historical significance of fireworks, it promises to infuse Tahoe City with an incredible energy. The absence of explosive sounds will provide a sense of relief to individuals with PTSD and contribute to reducing the number of lost pets, as statistics have shown a significant increase in missing animals during this holiday period, a fact that was shared with us last year by the North Tahoe Fire District.

By embracing eco-friendly technology, our region can offer entertainment that not only prioritizes public safety but also safeguards our environment. We sincerely hope that this exciting initiative will be embraced by the public and become a cherished new tradition in celebrating our nation’s independence. Let us come together as a community to create unforgettable memories while preserving the natural beauty we are so fortunate to call home.

~ Katie Biggers is the executive director of the TCDA. She also coaches North Tahoe Lacrosse and volunteers for SOS Outreach. Her chocolate lab, Tashmoo, is named for her other favorite lake in her hometown in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.


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  1. Of course it is hard to stray from tradition, but I agree that being open to new ideas that are more environmentally (and dog) friendly is the direction we should all be heading. I am excited to see how the drone shows grow into something spectacular and unique to this area. Thanks for the thoughtful article.