While the Fourth of July parade could be on Yampa Street again, Steamboat weighs location, timing of Halloween Stroll

Lincoln Avenue is packed with people as the Steamboat Springs downtown Halloween Stroll takes place on Oct. 31. City officials recently discussed whether the city should try to host two Halloween events to spread out the crowds.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & Today

During the final Steamboat Springs City Council meeting of 2022, Special Projects and Intergovernmental Services Manager Winnie DelliQuadri asked for direction on special event operations over the next year or two, including whether the city should explore hosting a second Halloween Stroll at the base of Steamboat Resort.

The location of next year’s Fourth of July parade was also discussed, and it appears that the event could be on Yampa Street again, instead of Lincoln Avenue, which is also U.S. Highway 40.

“The police department is projecting that by July, we will still not have the ability to shut down Lincoln,” DelliQuadri told City Council.

Council members said the city should remain open to the possibility of hosting the parade on Lincoln Avenue, saying business owners along the main drag in Steamboat would likely want to weigh in on the matter.

For those who want to see the parade roll down Lincoln Avenue, DelliQuadri offered a hint of optimism, saying the situation could change during the review process between now and then. 

Assuming local law enforcement’s projection is accurate, this would be the third year in a row the Fourth of July Parade has been hosted on Yampa. 

In 2021, the parade was moved at the last minute because mudslides on Interstate 70 rerouted traffic onto U.S. 40 through Steamboat Springs. Last summer, the Colorado Department of Transportation advised against closing the city’s main thoroughfare because of potential I-70 closures and increasing traffic on the highway, especially semi trucks.

The Halloween Stroll, however, is still scheduled for Lincoln Avenue despite operating near maximum capacity in recent years and creating traffic standstills on the Oak Street detour.

“Oak and Pine streets were basically parking lots,” DelliQuadri said as she described the congestion from this year’s Halloween Stroll.

Traffic backed up on Pine Street during the 2022 Halloween Stroll in Steamboat Springs. Traffic was diverted to Pine and Oak streets during the stroll while Lincoln Avenue was closed, Oct. 31 2022.
Rachel Lundy/Courtesy photo

During a debrief of the 2022 Halloween Stroll, the city’s staff identified significant public safety challenges and impediments to transit and public safety response. 

“Staff are concerned that the event, as it currently is produced, has outgrown the venue,” city staff wrote in a report to council members. 

To mitigate the congestion downtown during the Halloween Stroll, city staff are proposing having Steamboat host a second Halloween Stroll in the mountain area. But City Council shot that idea down. 

“It’s a celebration party for our community,” Council member Michael Buccino said. “And I’m not in support of dividing that up.” 

Buccino said the Halloween Stroll is one of a few community-wide offseason events each year, and he was skeptical about whether anyone would show up to the ski area’s version of the event. He said he believes dealing with a congested downtown for one night a year is tolerable. 

Council member Dakotah McGinlay, however, was open to the idea of a second Halloween Stroll despite being outnumbered. 

“I’m sure the mountain area businesses would appreciate that, and the mountain community might enjoy it being closer to home, too,” she said. 

The Halloween Stroll has been a tradition since 1991 and is considered the largest Halloween event in the city. Each year, Lincoln Avenue is closed off so people can dress up in costumes and trick-or-treat at the businesses downtown. 

Lincoln Avenue is closed off starting as early as 4:45 p.m. and doesn’t reopen until it is deemed safe. 

“For 21 years, I’ve been going downtown,” Council member Heather Sloop said.

While concerned that hosting a second stroll would further strain city staff, Sloop admitted she doesn’t have a solution for managing what she called a “compression on the community” and could entertain the idea of setting separate timeframes for small children.  

DelliQuadri said moving the stroll to Yampa Street was considered but wouldn’t be safe because of the street’s proximity to the river, where children could potentially gravitate. 

She asked council if there should be any public process to identify how the community feels about a second Halloween Stroll, but other council members were firm. 

“I think you’re hearing loud and clear that we would like to keep it on Lincoln Avenue, and we’ve got to be creative and explore other options,” City Council President Robin Crossan said. 

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