Vail Resorts wins top honors at Vail America Days with Marvel-themed display |

Vail Resorts wins top honors at Vail America Days with Marvel-themed display

Large party spans Vail, Lionshead villages

A child checks out Vail Resorts’ Marvel Comics-themed float in Lionshead Village on Sunday at the Vail America Days parade, a stationary parade where guests viewed static exhibits rather than moving parade vehicles.
John LaConte/

VAIL — The Fourth of July fell on a Sunday this year, and in Vail, that meant both the Independence Day exhibitions and the regular Sunday farmers market were combined into one enormous party.

Crowds spanned from Vail Village to Lionshead, enjoying pocket patriotism displays throughout.

Visiting from Texas, U.S. Military veteran Chuck Utzman and his wife, Jan, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Vail on Sunday, walking the village and posing for pictures with the stilt-wearing Uncle Sam and Betsy Ross characters.

Utzman, who claimed a birthday of May 15, 1929, on his first military registration card so he could go to Japan with the U.S. Army in 1947, went on to fight in both the Vietnam War and the Korean War, as well. He took part in a winter training in Camp Hale in the 1950s, and returned to Eagle County a little more than a decade later to try out the skiing at Vail.

“The thing I’ve always loved most about Colorado is the people,” he said.

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Chuck and Jan Utzman pose for pictures Sunday with stilt walkers Dave Hale and Elizabeth Fluharty during Vail America Days. The Utzmans are from Texas but are in Vail celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
John LaConte/

At about 11:15 a.m., two jets flew low over Vail Village to cheers from red, white and blue clad visitors in town. Many of the valley’s locals worked the event.

Vail Rotary Club President Edgard Cabanillas said a steady stream of guests visited his booth in Lionshead, purchasing rubber ducks for the next big summer holiday event in Vail, the Labor Day duck race down Gore Creek.

“It was really busy at the Minturn Market yesterday, too,” Cabanillas said. “We’re getting a shipment of all new ducks in tomorrow.”

Vail Rotary Club President Edgard Cabanillas, right, greets a guest on Sunday during the Vail America Days celebration.
John LaConte/

America’s heroes

The theme for this year’s Vail America Days stationary parade was “Saluting America’s Heroes.” Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said that slogan was meant to cover a lot of ground.

“That includes the fire department, police department and our armed services,” he said.

But Eagle County Paramedic Services workers widened that definition even further, lining an ambulance with “stars” including supermarket workers, postal workers, food service workers, sanitation workers, warehouse personnel and delivery people. The district even included a star banner for “Zoom buddies.”

An Eagle County Paramedic Services vehicle on display in Lionshead on Sunday during the Vail America Days festival.
John LaConte/

A superhero motif was used by both the overall winner — Vail Resorts — and the youth category winner, Alpine Arts Center.

The Alpine Arts Center used a row of strategically placed panels to create one long superhero scene, while Vail Resorts decorated mannequins of mountain workers as superheroes including the patriotic Captain America, the powerful Thor and the murderous Deadpool, complete with Vail name tags.

DiscoverVail contestant Talia of Hollywood, Florida, won an all-expenses-paid trip to Vail in a drawing entered by more than 2,000 participants.

The Danjul Family Foundation displayed an original 1962 Morris Cooper, Mechanical Express Plumbing and Heating had the Colorado River Queen mini-steam ship available for guests to see, and the Vail Police Department and Eagle County Paramedic Services had emergency vehicles parked in Lionshead Village.

A favorite among kids was the giant stuffed Labrador from Canine Companions, and the workers at Sunshine Massage Studios let children bang the hanging gongs on display in their booth.

A child strikes a hanging gong at the Sunshine Massage Studios booth in Lionshead village on Sunday.
John LaConte/

The Lazy J Ranch paid homage to Vail’s founders by displaying their “Vail Rod & Gun Club” lineage, and the Minturn VFW post 10721 displayed an exhibit called “Veterans Then & Now,” where guests saw old pictures of local veterans alongside more recent photos.

And dangling from a large apparatus in Lionshead village were the acrobatic yoga instructors from Peace Love Aerial Yoga in Minturn, who put on a show using silks and an aerial hoop known as a lyra. The group will also be performing in Eagle on Friday.

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