Fourth of July Parade returns to downtown Steamboat

Though a last minute change moved the tradition to Yampa Street, thousands lined the sidewalks to celebrate Independence Day.

Steamboat Springs resident Ken Constable was decked out for the holiday and Sunday's Fourth of July Parade, which was moved from Lincoln Avenue to Yampa Street at the last minute for traffic reasons. (Photo by John F. Russell)

The crowd estimates were all over the place. Some thought the return of the Steamboat Springs Fourth of July Parade had more people than ever before.

Others thought the last minute change of venue to Yampa Street made the crowd seem bigger, but the actual number of people was closer to what it had been in the past.

Either way, after a socially distanced, drive-thru parade last year, there was no social distancing Sunday morning, and people — donned in red, white and blue of course — were pretty happy about that.

“It is so awesome to see people out and about. And everyone is smiling, every single person is smiling,” said longtime Steamboat Springs local Karen Beauvais. “I say about the same (size crowd), but there is a lot more spirit.”

Click here to see more Fourth of July Parade photos.

“Isn’t this great, all the people out after last year?” said Lisa Linn, who came to Steamboat from south of Denver for the holiday. “I am so happy.”

Routt County Fair Royalty Queen Leah Allen makes her way along Yampa Street during the 2021 Steamboat Springs Fourth of July Parade.

Hours before the parade was set to start, the decision was made to move it from the traditional route on Lincoln Avenue down to Yampa Street because of increased traffic on U.S. Highway 40 through Steamboat Springs because of mudslides in Glenwood Canyon that closed Interstate 70.

Still, it was hard to tell there was any last-minute change as parade watchers lined up to get a good spot on the narrower street, lined with orange barricades.

“The initial thought was that we might have to cancel, but I am just thrilled we were able to come up with a pretty great plan B,” said Steamboat Springs Chamber CEO Kara Stoller. “If we have learned anything over the last year, year and a half, it is to be flexible.”

The parade started on the corner of 10th and Yampa streets with Steamboat Springs Police Department squads leading the way, followed by many of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue fire trucks.

Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said he has been in the parade every year — including last year’s drive-thru — for the past 20 years, with his first one in 2001.

“People appreciate the fire department and the police year-round, but I think it is a good opportunity for us to celebrate the town, celebrate the Fourth and what we all do,” Cerasoli said. “I love it; it is fun.”

Lisa Thornhill celebrated the holiday as part of the Fourth of July Parade with the Steamboat Dance Theater. (Photo by John F. Russell)

When members of Steamboat Springs American Legion Post No. 44 and Veterans of Foreign Wars No. 4264 reached the stage area on the corner of Eighth and Yampa streets, soon-to-be Steamboat Springs High School senior Adia Clark Lay, 17, sang the National Anthem.

“This summer, I have sang it three or four times, but since COVID, I haven’t been singing it that much,” Clark Lay said. “It is amazing to see how many people are here. … It is such an honor that I got asked to do it.”

As Clark Lay was singing, a Classic Air helicopter provided a flyover for the parade, one that the veterans’ horses reacted to.

Luckily for veteran Wayne More, the flyover did not spook his red, 1952 Farmall Tractor. More said he has owned the tractor for about 15 years and has driven it in the parade several times before.

“It runs like a top,” More said.

The parade was shorter than it has been in years past, but those who have made participating in it a longtime tradition were happy to have it back.

Wayne More leads veterans from the VFW Post No. 4264 and American Legion Post No. 44 in his 1952 Farmall. (Photo by John F. Russell)

Wanda and John Busch with the Priest Creek Ranch have been in the parade for “20 some years.” Each of their horses have been in the parade for decades as well.

“We’re so excited that people are here, can celebrate again and bring the tradition back,” Wanda said.

The new route ended after rounding the corner onto the Fifth Street Bridge toward the rodeo arena. There Sgt. Rich Brown with the Steamboat Springs Police Department was directing traffic.

“It is good to be back,” Brown said. “It doesn’t seem quite as crowded when it is up on Lincoln, but it’s busy.”

Stoller said it is too early to tell if this year’s plan B will lead to the parade being on Yampa again in the future, but some in the crowd speculated that it would.

“It actually went off pretty well,” said Steamboat Springs Council President Jason Lacy. “To me, I think we need to think about doing this in the future.”

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