Steamboat’s July 4th features long history, local flavor |

Steamboat’s July 4th features long history, local flavor

Scott Franz
Lowell Thropp

— There may be fewer horses and more tourists at Steamboat Springs’ annual Fourth of July parade these days, but longtime attendee Jim Stanko said it still has its local flavor.

“It’s a chance for locals to get involved in something that’s fun,” he said. “The thing of it is that unlike big parades, everyone knows everybody. Even though there are more tourists in the crowd these days, people still call out to the people they know.”

Steamboat for more than 100 years has marked Independence Day with a parade.

In 1947, the top floats took in a $20 prize, and the Dorothy Shop awarded a purse to the best-dressed cowgirl. Sather’s Jewelry gave a lighter to the best-dressed cowboy.

“Everybody and their dog brought their horse to town and rode in the parade,” Stanko said, adding that children also spent hours carefully decorating bikes hoping to wow the crowd.

Stanko said Steamboat’s American Legion started running the parade in about 1922, with members also in charge of crowd control and the fireworks show at Howelsen Hill.

Through 1966, the Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars continued to run the parade.

Jo Semotan always attended the parade with her grandpa and with a flag.

One year when she was about 9 years old, Semotan recalled, it snowed in the morning as her family prepared to ride the horses to the parade.

“I told Daddy I was worried we weren’t going to go,” she said Thursday. “But he said, ‘We’ll go.’ And it was a lot of fun.”

This year’s parade will run with the theme of Star Spangled Steamboat Summer and is organized by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.

Organizers are expecting at least 63 floats to travel the length of Lincoln Avenue downtown, complete with kids scrambling for candy and sirens from emergency vehicles.

As it has in previous years, the parade will feature performers, Boy Scouts, dancers, athletes, Democrats and Republicans.

It also will feature the newer additions of a flash mob and a miniature horse named Oreo from Walden.

“This is by far the biggest parade in town every year,” Chamber Public Relations Manager Nikki Inglis said. “With so many floats, it’s going to be really entertaining.”

This year’s parade will pay tribute to Steamboat’s mountain biking heritage and honor biking enthusiasts Gretchen and Marc Sehler.

The couple has been instrumental in building and maintaining trails on Emerald Mountain and have been riding Emerald since the 1980s.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email

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