Parades shine through the valley
The Pollack family walked their three dogs, clad in canine-sized patriotic jumpers, visors and top hats, through the crowd.
“I really don’t think not having fireworks will change much about Vail’s celebration,” said Albert Pollack. “The only difference I’ve noticed is all the politicians with floats. Ah, it must be an election year!”
Indeed, the small-town nature of the valley contributes greatly to the sense of patriotism and enthusiasm seen on Bridge Street each Fourth of July.
“This is just a happy small town atmosphere,” said local Howie Rapson as he watched his 20th annual Vail America Days parade. “To me, this is the true expression of America.”
As the floats passed by wallpapered with American flags, there was no shortage of patriotic expression from the crowd.
“Patriotism is alive and well in Vail,” said Karson Kiser as he scanned the cheering crowd of red-white-and-blue-clad spectators.
Some attendees tried to make up for the recent drought by showering the streets of Vail with more water than has been seen in months.
“We used to be in the parade, and we’d spray people with water from the floats,” said Tim Licciardi as he stood on a balcony, engaged in a water-shootout with some friends on a float in the street below. “But now we’ve taken the other side. I think we’re winning.”
He barely finished his sentence before a cohort ran into the street with a bucket of water and dumped it directly on one of the young men riding the float.
Cheering erupted in the crowd as the drenched float-rider screeched in delight.
“We don’t let them spray unless they have been sprayed at first,” added a bystanding mother.
Well, there was certainly no lack of provocation.
In no time at all, bystanders learned when to duck and the waterfights prevailed throughout the two and a half hour parade.
Many long-time vetrans of Vail’s Fourth of July celebration insist that this year will be one of the best.
“I can remember a year when it snowed during the parade,” said Rapson. “My daughters were on a float in their swimsuits, and when they passed me, they burst into tears, they were so cold.”
There are worse things than no fireworks. Like watching them with mitten-warmers tucked in your pockets.
But this year the sun was shining and the people were out in droves.
Vail Police estimate that 10,000 people were in attendance, which was evidenced by the every-man-for-himself parking situation.
“We just like to declare a parking emergency and let people park wherever they can,” said police officer Stephen Wright. “We just want everyone to be able to get into town and celebrate.”
And celebrate they did.
Whether listening to the tunes of the Denver Pipe (yes, bagpipe) Band or watching the Vail Precision Lawn Chair Demo Team show off their folding skills, patrons seemed fully engrossed in the event.
“This is such a hokey little small town celebration,” said Joe Joyce, owner and namesake of Joe’s Famous Deli. He has seen 12 of Vail’s parades. “It hasn’t changed much, and I hope it doesn’t in the future.”
No fireworks were allowed this Fourth of July, but 8-year-old James Van Dyke had fireworks attached to the handlebar of his bike. The fireworks, however, were made out of metallic paper.
“Today I’m celebrating the Fourth of July and my birthday that is Saturday,” James said.
Inside his car made out of cardboard, Chris Perse, 9, of Eagle waited patiently for the second annual Fourth of July Kid’s Bike Parade to start Thursday morning.
“I’m President “Chris Bush’ and he is my bodyguard,” Chris said pointing at his friend, Chris Eaton, who stood over his bike wearing camouflage shorts and shirt.
“I’m in my motorcycle with a 50-caliber machine gun,” Chris Eaton said.
More than 100 children and their parents showed up at 8:15 a.m. at the Brush Creek Playground in Eagle for the bike parade organized by Mary and Chris Boyd.
There was 5-year-old Miles Patterson, who was an eagle with foil paper claws covering his cowboy boots. Megan Muehlethaler, 6, wore a birthday cake hat over her helmet and her brother, Price, 4, had a sign that said “Thanks to all the firefighters in America” attached to the back of his T-shirt.
Even Gerald Beers with the Eagle police wore a top hat that he changed for a bike helmet for the bike ride. And Cowboy, a Bernese Mountain dog, was the official lemonade dog – Cowboy pulled a wagon with free lemonade.
“This is a great way to start the Fourth of July with exercise, fun and family,” Mary Boyd said. The Boyds, owners of Eagle Valley Hardware, said they hope that the event, which they started last year, will gain popularity and become a part of Eagle and Gypsum’s regular Fourth of July celebrations with live music and other events.
“Everyone goes upvalley for Vail’s parade and we wanted to stay here,” Chris Boyd said. “We always had bike parades when we were growing up.”
When the children arrived at the Eagle Town Park, cookies and lemonade were waiting for them – even the cookies were white, blue and red. After eating and drinking, the games started: a water balloon contest and a goldfish spoon race at the sound of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”.
“It’s a neat thing and adds another dimension to Fourth of July, said Eagle Mayor Roxie Deane, a judge for the bike decorating contest.
“Small town events like this one and Flight Days, are neat for kids. They give them a warm, community hometown feel,” Deane said.
“This is great. So much fun!” said Scott Hixon, who came from Wolcott with his two children. “Where else can you have a parade at 8 a.m. and have so many people showing up?”