Steamboat's patriotism shines during parade

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— Since he was only 2 years old, Jonathan Milne, 8, has participated in the Fourth of July parade in Steamboat Springs.

In years past, he rode a bike with the Sore Saddle Cyclery kids' group. But this year he and his younger brother, Patrick, laced up their inline skates and skated along with the Winter Sports Club group.

The boys wore clothes in patriotic colors, big ribbons with red, white and blue stripes, and American flags on their helmets and backs.

Jonathan said he was looking forward to throwing candy to the crowd. His mother said he has been so excited that the day before the parade he couldn't stop talking about it.

"They look forward to it every year," Laurie Milne said about her two sons. "I think it's a great event for the whole town and all the people that come to visit."

Starting about 10 a.m., the Milnes, along with about 75 participating groups, walked, skated, drove and rode down Lincoln Avenue between 11th and Sixth streets as part of the parade.

Spectators who enthusiastically cheered on the groups packed the streets. Art Fiebing, assistant chief of the Steamboat Springs Police Department, said it was hard to estimate the number of people watching the parade, but that if he had to guess he would say there were around 2,000.

Spectators received smiles, candy, waves and water-gun squirts from the parade marchers.

"It's really fun because it seems especially patriotic this year," said Steamboat resident Joan Allsberry who was watching the parade. "This is such a great community, and this parade is kind of the culmination of that."

One of the parade's most touching moments was at the beginning when the National Anthem was played, a moment of silence was observed and members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars re-enacted the scene of soldiers raising the American flag at Iwo Jima.

"I'm so glad to experience this," said Karen Bodine, who was visiting from Oregon. "I'm really moved by all of this."

Another highlight was the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation's float called "Celebrating our past and future Olympians." The gold torch that was set up on the Courthouse lawn during the Winter Olympics was on the float, as were past Olympic athletes from Steamboat.

Following behind the float were young members of the Winter Sports Club, including the Milnes, representing the town's potential Olympians of the future.

Since the torch's flame couldn't be lit, a fan for snowmaking was installed inside the torch to blow gold and silver streamers.

"What greater thing is there than to watch a parade and have an Olympian hand you a pennant?" said Cristina Magill, who helped organize the group.

Red, white and blue colors were incorporated into almost all of the floats and costumes.

The Elk River Farm & Feed's float had red, white and blue bags of feed stacked to look like American flags, as well as red, white and blue salt blocks.

"We kind of put everything we had that was red, white and blue together," said Colby Townsend, who owns the store with his wife.

Les Sharp of Trans-CO Concrete drove a concrete mixer truck decorated with streamers. His 5-year-old daughter, Jennie Rose Sharp, got to beep the truck's horn.

Sandy Forbes rode her horse, Brownie, with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Auxiliary group for the third year. Forbes has participated in the parade for the past 10 years and this year brought her 9-year-old daughter, Krysta. "It's just a great, wonderful annual event it brings the whole community out," Forbes said.

Because of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, Forbes said she thought this year's Fourth of July parades and celebrations are even more meaningful.

"I think the whole thing with Sept. 11 has really brought these small communities together," she said.

One of the biggest crowd-pleasers was the group of fire engines, ambulances and search and rescue vehicles that rode out at the parade's beginning.

Sandy Witte, who has worked with Routt County Search and Rescue for eight years and rode in the parade with a rescue dog, Schwar, said she was happy to be a part of the parade and to thank the community for its support.

"It's a way to celebrate and be part of the community," she said, "and also a way to show the community we appreciate all they do for us."

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