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From July Fourth chaos to family fun in Idaho mountain town

Crouch is known for throwing one of the craziest free-for-all, Wild West fireworks frenzies on Independence Day. But the town is losing that reputation.

CROUCH, Idaho - Believe it or not, the Fourth of July is just three and half weeks away!

One tiny mountain town in Idaho is known for throwing one of the craziest free-for-all, Wild West fireworks frenzies on Independence Day. But Crouch is losing that reputation.

Last year, they said enough is enough, and voted to ban all fireworks in certain areas of the city limits. Those same rules are in play this year.

MORE: No more chaotic Fourth of July in Crouch

Crouch city limits are only about a mile long. For years, hundreds to thousands of people would take over this tiny stretch in the heart of town and turn it into what many locals call "mayhem." When people caught wind of the annual craziness, knowing they could set off their own fireworks, they poured into town.

"I liked the excitement of it and it's so beautiful sitting right here, and I mean it's just craziness," Middle Fork Trading Post store manager Marcia Hefner said. "Not very many people do crazy like we were doing!"

Thousands of legal and illegal fireworks were set off in the streets - near people, children and businesses. Aand alcohol was rampant.

"A lot of people in the community didn't want to see that anymore," Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce Vice President Jason Sawin said. "It was getting really dangerous and out of control."

"It just kind of got bigger and bigger and a little bit more wilder," Hefner said.

So city leaders and business and property owners wanted to get it under control. They put an end to the chaos last year, passing a new ordinance banning fireworks - even sparklers - within a certain area of the city.

"There were some people that really wanted to see the fireworks stay," Sawin said. "And for me and my family it was something you never see anywhere, it was so crazy. But all the old 100-year-old buildings that are all wood - it was a huge fire danger."

Sawin said with the new law in place, last year's celebrations were a success. The Chamber of Commerce also said the city saved a ton of money and volunteer time last year by not cleaning up all the trash and debris the next day.

"A lot less just alcohol on the streets, a lot less trash," Sawin said. "Last year we came up with a completely different idea and it actually worked really good."

"I was happy the way it turned out because I was really worried it wasn't going to be as fun," Hefner said. "But it was good. It was safer."

More wholesome, family-friendly fun with more events geared toward kids.

"We had a great little soap box car derby race down the road all evening," Hefner said.

There is good news for those of you who want to set off your own fireworks: You can bring them to the Garden Valley Rodeo Grounds just down the street at 7 p.m. For a few bucks, you can light off legal fireworks inside the arena.

"They did that last year with really good success," Sawin said. "It wasn’t as crazy but it was still very successful because people want to light off fireworks. It’s a safe place so that we are not setting the mountain on fire, too, or a building, things like that."

By nixing the chaotic party in town last year, there was concern that businesses would take a hit because Crouch always saw the biggest boost on the Fourth.

"Probably had less visitors but they were mostly families and still most of the businesses' July 4th numbers were about even or even better than the year before," Sawin said.

And locals who had stayed away in recent years actually came into town for the festivities, which are set to be even better this year.

"We still had a good amount of people in town," Hefner said. "I didn't see as much because it wasn't all out in front of the store like it was but there was still a lot of people in town. Nobody worried about getting hurt."

Because the 4th of July is in the middle of the week, the Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce stretched celebrations out. There are more events, and they're bringing in a multi-day carnival.

To check out all the Independence Day happenings there, check out this web page.

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