4th festivities attract man and beast alike

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— The animals almost outnumbered the people in Tuesday's Fourth of July celebrations in downtown Steamboat Springs. Dogs, horses and sheep delighted the hundreds of spectators lining Lincoln Avenue for the parade and, later, those at the Tread of Pioneers block party.

This year's parade included almost 100 entries. The sun beamed down on Lincoln Avenue as the crowd braved the heat to watch dozens of horses, including some ones, trot down the street. The ranching heritage of the area was represented by the tractors and trailers that growled down the street, followed by buggies and local 4-H club members atop their float.

Henri Stetter was enjoying his first real American Independence Day parade. A native of Switzerland, he said he had only seen them on military bases but that Steamboat's parade was a pretty impressive sight.

"Last year it was the military and this year it's cowboys and trailers. To me it's very interesting," he said. "It's very down to earth."

Dogs made appearances thanks to Healing Paws, the Northwest Colorado Animal Assistance League and other organizations. Many of the canines wore patriotic garb.

"This is a dog parade," Steamboat resident Don Searls said. "The best part of the parade is dogs."

Many of the parade participants threw candy to spectators and the youngsters in the crowd scrambled to pick up as much as they could. Some had backpacks or bags to hold their loot.

The bicycle participants rivaled that of people and animals. Among them was the Sore Saddle Cyclery brigade riding festive two- and three-wheelers.

In this election year, political candidates were out in force with Democrats and Republicans campaigning for county, state and federal offices seen waving to the crowd.

Yearly participants the All-Broad Kazoo Band blew their hearts out in their number, a tightly choreographed piece that included some patriotic costumes. Applause rang out for the group and many others.

"We love it. The parade is excellent," new Steamboat resident Ken DePaul said. "It has a little bit of history, too."

Down at the Tread of Pioneers Museum "Pioneer Days" block party on Eighth Street, children and parents gathered to eat, get their faces painted, see a fire truck and pet some animals.

"It's everything I hoped for," museum director Marty Woodbury said. "I think it speaks for itself. People just gravitate to the museum for free day. This is our gift to the town."

Lowell Whiteman Primary School and St. Paul's Episcopal Church teamed up to give away 300 hot dogs at the block party. The United Methodist Church sold berries and ice cream and the museum sold old-fashioned root beer floats. Students from the Kaleidoscope summer arts program square danced in traditional costumes.

"It's wonderful. It's great," Steamboat resident Meg Montgomery said. "We came right from the parade."

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