Saturday, January 25, 2003
Steamboat Springs Nothing draws a bigger crowd along Steamboat Springs' main drag than a good marching band.
Well, that and 20 or 30 of the best diamond hitch parade floats you've ever seen.
Stop by the Diamond Hitch Parade on Feb. 9 and see for yourself. The annual Winter Carnival event always draws some of the biggest crowds of the week.
The Diamond Hitch parade made its debut in 1927 when the Ladies Recreation Club began the tradition at the suggestion of Antoinette "Tony" Welton.
In its early years, the event was more of a competition than parade. The first contest was judged on form as well as speed and featured teams of four athletes (positioned behind a horse holding a tow rope at four points in the form of a diamond) being pulled down Lincoln Avenue.
The contestants in the first competition were clad in colorful costumes and received candy as a prize for winning. That year's Winter Carnival celebration pitted the Navajos, dressed in Indian blanket jackets, and the Sailors, a team dressed in red sweaters, white pants and caps making their way down Lincoln.
The idea of the event was to add color and style to the Winter Carnival, and it was a success.
By 1928 the spectacle was expanded to include old-fashioned girls, Uncle Sam, bathing beauties and cowboys.
The popularity of the event continued to grow over the next few years and in 1932 the first vehicle-drawn entry featured 32 Boy Scouts in eight diamond hitches being pulled by two Model A Fords.
In 1933,the event was turned into an exhibition and ever since then has been judged on costumes, holding the diamond hitch and adherence to the theme.
This year's parade will take place on Feb. 9 at approximately 11:30 a.m. The event follows the street events on Lincoln Avenue.
All participants must be wearing a Winter Carnival button to take part and only floats featuring the diamond hitch will be judged in the parade.
"You're not a local unless you have a Winter Carnival Button for every year you've been here," longtime local Tom Whiddon said.
Whiddon has been involved with the parade for more than 11 years. He announced for the parade the last three years, but was unsure if he would be in line for a fourth.
He thinks the parade is a big draw because it is so unique. He gives a lot of the credit for the packed streets to Steamboat's "Skiing" Band.
"I think most of the people who come out want to see Steamboat's famous marching band," Whiddon said.
Last year the Lowell Whiteman School (primary), the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association (intermediate), the Yampa Valley Medical Association, and Glen Eden Resort (commercial) were all winners.
This year Katie Tirone is expecting about the same number of teams as in 2002. The theme is "Honoring the History of Howelsen Hill."
First through third place will be awarded in the Primary (K-5th grade), Intermediate (6th --12th grade), Adult and Commercial categories.
After years of supporting the diamond hitch, Whiddon says it's always a good time and normally a pretty cold parade.
"I would encourage people to bundle up this year," Whiddon said.
"We've been pretty lucky the last couple of years, so I think we are due for a cold one."