Make the most of Vail’s parade
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado – Vail’s annual Fourth of July parade draws the biggest crowd of the summer to the village. Organizers expect Sunday’s Vail America Days shebang to draw 30,000 to 40,000 people to town. The event starts at 10 a.m. and should last about two hours. Here’s some advice to help parade-goers make the most of their day.
Parking fills up fast, so consider taking the bus. Eco Transit buses leave every half hour from Edwards and Avon. ECO Transit suggests catching the bus at Freedom Park in Edwards at 9:09 a.m., Avon Station at 9:21a.m., or the Forest Service parking lot at Dowd Junction at 9:36 a.m. The bus drops off riders at the transportation center in Vail Village and U.S. Bank in Lionshead. Find the full bus schedule at http://www.eaglecounty.us/Transit/Schedules/. One note of caution: Vail’s in-town bus won’t be running for about a half hour before the parade starts and roughly an hour after the parade finishes (the parade and bus routes overlap). So if you plan to ride the in-town bus to get around the Vail area, consider starting out at least 45 minutes before the parade. The in-town bus runs every 7 to 10 minutes starting at 6:30 a.m. If you insist on driving, arrive an hour before the parade to get a spot in one of Vail’s parking garages. Check for large signs that say whether the garages are full. If the garages fill up, parking will be allowed along the north side of South Frontage Road near the parking garages. Some people suggest parking just outside town and riding a bike to the parade. There are a few small parks with a handful of parking spaces (Red Sandstone and Stephens parks) but they fill up fast and are far from a sure bet. Don’t plan to park at Donovan Pavilion or Ford Park because special events will be taking place at both locations.
Where to watch
If you want to be in the center of the action, consider hanging out near Sweet Basil on Gore Creek Drive in Vail Village or by the parking structure in Lionshead. Announcers will comment on entries and ask trivia questions at those locations. If you want a more low key experience, head to the Vail Valley Medical Center in Vail, where wide spaces provide room for lawn chairs. Some people start setting up their lawn chairs as early as 8 a.m. If none of those locations are appealing or they fill up, you can watch the parade from anywhere along the route. The parade starts at Golden Peak, then continues west to Hanson Ranch Road, north on Bridge Street, west on Gore Creek Drive, north across the International Bridge, west along Meadow Drive and finally weaves through the Lionshead Mall to the finish.
What to bring
Consider bringing sunscreen, a hat and water. If you don’t want to pack water or run out, merchants will be selling bottled water and Gallegos Corporation will be giving out free water. Bring a blanket or lawn chair. Kids should bring a bag to store treats and candy people on floats toss into the crowd. Leave the Super Soakers behind. Vail no longer allows children or people on floats to shoot water guns or throw water balloons.
What to expect
Typically about 12 to 20 floats participate in the parade, although the designs are kept top secret until the big day. Look for Peruvian horses, the local lawn chair drill team, the Pueblo County High School marching band and other parade entries. Four F-16 fighter jets plan to fly over the parade. Miss Colorado (Melaina Shipwash) will be the parade’s grand marshal.
– Sources: Parade organizers Laurie Asmussen and JoAnn Moore, Vail transportation director Mike Rose, ECO Transit operations manager Jeff Wetzel, Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger.