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No more chaotic Fourth of July in Crouch

CROUCH, Idaho -- The tiny mountain town of Crouch has a population of about 200 people. But every year on the Fourth of July it balloons to about 5,000. People from all over pour in for a Wild West fireworks frenzy.

CROUCH, Idaho -- The tiny mountain town of Crouch has a population of about 200 people. But every year on the Fourth of July it balloons to about 5,000. People from all over pour in for a Wild West fireworks frenzy.

The main road in the heart of downtown Crouch becomes filled with hundreds to thousands of people on Independence Day. It can definitely be a party but it can also be a disaster.

Over the years, it's gotten out of hand with people bringing illegal fireworks and a lot of alcohol into town. One person described it online as "the gnarliest celebration anywhere." Now, city leaders and business owners are putting an end to it.

Word spread quickly when Crouch held their annual celebration, allowing people to bring their own fireworks into town. But what started as good, wholesome Independence Day family fun has transformed into chaos.

"None of the locals want to even come in here and get in the mess anymore," Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce Board President and Garden Valley Properties owner Diane Caughlin said. "It's just too dangerous."

"It's people from out of town who just load up their trucks with fireworks and alcohol and it's just a big party," Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce Board member and Idaho X Sports Adventure Park General Manager Jason Sawin told KTVB.

The Chamber of Commerce puts on a huge Fourth of July celebration in town with tons of different events, but they don't sponsor or promote the destructive aspect of it where people light off thousands of both illegal and legal fireworks near people, children and businesses.

"We want it to be the small-town celebration that we actually encourage, not the craziness that keeps coming in," Caughlin added.

"It's real pretty, but it looks like an atomic war went off or something after it's all done the next day," Hefner said.

The Fourth in Crouch is a big boost for business.

"The amount of people is great for business here," Sawin said. "It's the biggest day of the whole year."

But business owners say it doesn't pay off when they are spending money and time sweeping up the aftermath. So the majority of property owners who own the land in downtown Crouch said: We've had enough.

On Thursday, members of the Garden Valley Chamber of Commerce took a vote on two options - neither option allows people to shoot off their own fireworks anymore.

Their options were: 1) Do businesses and residents still want to have all the other festivities, such as the chamber-sponsored fireworks show? 2) Or do they want to shut down all July Fourth celebrations in Crouch this summer to send a strong message and to reset for a smaller event next year?

The first option received a unanimous "yes" vote. Not one person's hand went up for the second option.

The chamber knows it is going to be a challenge to enforce this change, but they are working to get the word out early and let people know there will be consequences if this rule is broken.

"It's going to be a nightmare for the sheriff but we will help him as much as we can. We will still hire all the reservists and a security company to help us stop people if they try to bring fireworks in here," Caughlin told KTVB.

Caughlin says if the reigned-in July Fourth celebration doesn't go as planned this summer, they'll re-evaluate the event and determine whether they should cease all celebrations entirely for next summer.

To be clear: There will still be a city-sponsored fireworks show and event in Crouch this Fourth of July, but people are not permitted to shoot off fireworks - even legal, safe and sane fireworks - like they have in years past.

Crouch is surrounded by the Boise National Forest , so one fear leaders have is if they don't allow people to shoot off fireworks in town, folks will go into the woods and start forest fires. The fire department plans to be out in full force to ensure that doesn't happen.

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