Though it looked different, Steamboat women proudly celebrate annual Women’s March with drive-by parade
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The fourth annual Women’s March in Steamboat Springs felt a bit different Saturday for many of its participants.
The COVID-19 pandemic inspired the march’s organizers to hold a drive-by parade around the city rather than the usual walk down Lincoln Avenue, and the heavy snowfall provided a challenge to vehicles driving around unplowed roads and steep hills.
For the most part, many participants said, the march felt like more of a celebration than a protest, which was the national event’s original purpose after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 and stirred concerns among individuals due to his behavior toward women.
“It’s more celebrating this year than protesting against what we saw as wrongful action four years ago,” said Julie Alkema, a Steamboat resident.
Alkema, driving a blue Toyota Prius, showed up with Sally Claason, driving a red Prius, and Nina Darlington, driving a white Prius. Together, the trio said they were representing the American flag’s colors as a return to “what America really stands for.”
“We’re here to celebrate new hope and a new dawn,” said Claason, a Steamboat resident. “We’re back to preserving public lands, showing that Black lives matter, caring about social justice issues and seeing civility in the White House.”
As the three cars circled Walton Creek Road, Claason’s car slid off the road and into a snowbank. Immediately after noticing her car stopped, four other participants pulled off to help her attempt to push the car out, which Darlington said felt like “a spirit of the Women’s March.”
“Nevertheless, she persisted,” Darlington said, referencing Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s infamous quote about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. “You have to step up to the circumstances that arise and be willing to show up with strength in those moments.”
The Saturday parade came at the conclusion of two weeks worth of events around the theme “Sheroes are everywhere,” based on Vice President Kamala Harris’ book “Superheroes are Everywhere.” Rather than a single-day march, this year’s goal was to celebrate Routt County’s female essential workers who have carried the county through COVID-19 and Harris becoming the first female vice president.
“It’s nice to celebrate having a woman in the vice presidency, and it’s nice to celebrate democracy and just having a sense of returning,” said Beth Melton, a Routt County commissioner who helped organize the event. “The last four years have been really divisive, and there’s been a lot of anger and frustration. For me, this feels like an opportunity for us to heal as a country and as a community.”
Many women felt the march and historicity of Harris’ victory was special not only to them but to their children and future generations.
“The glass ceiling is shattered, and we have a woman in the White House,” said Roberta Smith, a Steamboat resident. “To be a young girl at this time — how amazing is it that you can see that a woman can be president?”
Allyn Bendall, who drove to Steamboat from Denver to participate with Smith, said she’s participated in every Women’s March since the original in 2017. Despite 2020 bringing challenges and despair to many, she felt Saturday’s march brought a strong sense of hope and joy.
“There’s such an immense sense of relief and hope today,” Bendall said.
While most of Saturday’s participants were women, several men also showed up to express support.
“It’s time for older white males to retire or get a different attitude,” said Johnny Walker, who attended with his wife. “It’s equality for the whole country, and it’s important for all of us to recognize our shared humanity and for the kids and the community.”
Tim McCarthy, who also attended with his wife, said the march was representative of a “change of tide” in the country.
“I think we’ll be pleasantly surprised if we give women a chance to run things,” he added.
Steamboat’s organizers also emphasized the parade was not inherently political but rather to show support for women around the country.
“I think that, oftentimes, we’re so divided by national politics and national news, but for me, everything is local and things that are local make the most difference in our actual lives,” said Jennifer Bock, a march organizer. “When we look around, we can realize that everyone here is working really hard to support each other.”
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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