July 2004

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There is nothing like a small-town parade on the 4th of July. Or so I imagine. The only small-town parades I’ve ever seen were in Steamboat on the 4th of July. Despite my limited expertise, I still say they are American classics. They play out just like you would expect them to play out if you were watching a romantic comedy Hollywood blockbuster about a city guy who discovers the charm of small-town living, and this one was no exception.

Usually we watch from the sidewalk adjacent to Space Station Gas. This year we moved down a block to near the end of the parade where the paraders turn off Main Street. This location had its pros and cons. The con was that by the time they reached us, most of the paraders were pretty worn out. A person can only wave so much before animatronicism sets in or they fall off the float carried by their own inertia. The pro was that because the parade was nearing the end, remaining candy (to be thrown to the crowd) and remaining water (to be thrown on the crowd) was disbursed in volume. Nevertheless, Becca was distressed to be recipient of neither. Though desirous of both, she did not want to flood the parade route with the herd of hyperactive children that ran to each float like liberated Europeans circa WWII.

Since you may not have been able to be there, I will give you the parade line-up in a nutshell.

First came the fire engines and other emergency vehicles. Apparently they serpentine their way over the parade route first because they may be called into service when heat exhaustion sets in as the parade drags on. Their strategy proved wise as someone a few feet away from us did indeed collapse.

“Firemen! Over here, firemen!” Fortunately, they had parked just behind us and three were on hand immediately.

Then came the political candidates and the county affiliates of the Democratic and Republican parties.

“It’s an election year, there will be a lot of them,” noted one spectator without enthusiasm. There were. Local State Senate and U.S. Senate candidates but why no Presidential candidate floats? A missed opportunity. I may submit an article to Political Operative Monthly.

Then came the pet paraders. More pet paraders than usual this year, not sure why. The Humane Society, one or two veterinarians, and one or two pet rescues–and a number of adopted, cared for, and rescued animals led by their owners. It seemed like every dog and pony in Steamboat was marching in the parade. My dog was chained up on the porch at home. He was adopted from a Front Range shelter but perhaps I can get him into the Steamboat parade on a transfer basis.

The last float belonged to Perry-Mansfield, a performing arts and dance camp located just outside Steamboat. We could see them singing and dancing a few blocks up for about ten minutes (there was often a lag time between floats–it lent authenticity to the proceedings). Finally, they made it down to us and the wait was worth it. Vocalists on a hay truck belted out some selections from Grease while the rest of the campers danced behind them. It was not Broadway, it was more like seeing highlights of a high school musical (fitting since they were all high or middle schoolers in real life). And that’s not an insult, they were the highlight of the parade. (That’s not an insult either.)

I should also mention some other worthy floats that do not fit into the above categories. There were lots of horses and a stagecoach and some old cars. These are staples and a parade without them would be as incomplete as a hairless cat. Bonus features: llamas, alpacas, and the Steamboat Rugby team tossing water out of a raft tied to the roof of a truck. All things considered, it was a great way to spend one and a half hours on the morning of our nation’s birthday–standing, watching America roll by, in the sun. See you there next year.