Colorado Days offers fun for all

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— It was like Halloween in July, but without the costumes. Candy showered down from parade floats Saturday in Hayden, and children eagerly scoured Jefferson Avenue for the tasty treats. One little girl in a bright pink swimsuit filled a grocery bag with the Tootsie Rolls, lollipops and caramel she collected. She was not the only spectator with a sweet tooth.

"I like the candy they throw the best," 9-year-old Ashley Ellis said.

Ashley's friend, 6-year-old Dylan Munden, disagreed.

"My favorite is the motorcycles," he said, white powdered sugar from donuts lining his mouth.

Ashley and Dylan came with their families to watch the Colorado Days Parade, an annual benefit to raise money for the Intermountain Shriners Hospital in Salt Lake City. Colorado Days, which ran from Friday to Sunday, also featured a golf tournament, street dance and theater performance as well as other activities.

For the parade, Ashley and Dylan's families staked out a shady spot along the street at 10 a.m., and by 11 a.m., the sidewalks were filled for several blocks with people.

The parade began with four men from the American Legion riding on horseback with the American flag. Behind them, firefighters waved from fire trucks, and El Jebel Shriner members from Denver drove in vintage cars.

"We're here to help raise money for the children," said Shriner Bob Robinson, who has participated in the parade for the past 20 years. "The Shriners hospital is the best one for kids in the world."

One eye-catching float in the parade was a small, white airplane made of wood, chicken wire and tissue paper and built on top of a riding lawn mower.

The float represented Frontier Airlines, whose CEO, Jeff Potter, grew up in Hayden.

"We just thought that for Colorado Days, we needed a Colorado airline," Kelly Potter, his wife, said.

In a frenzy of saws and hammers, the Potter family and their relatives from Hayden, the Copelands, built the plane in eight hours the day before. On the fin of the plane, they painted a beaver on one side and a moose, Frontier's new animal, on the other, and they threw bags of animal crackers to spectators as the float traveled along.

Several political candidates also marched in the parade, including Jay Fetcher, Jeff Fry, Mark Marchus and Jack Taylor. The Routt County Republicans tugged an inflatable elephant several stories high down the street.

Miniature horses pulled tiny carriages, trick cars reared onto their rear wheels and boys in grass skirts hula danced on a flat bed truck.

One of the spectators was Don Morgan, who watched the festivities with his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren from the lawn of his house on Jefferson Avenue. His grandson, Ryan Morgan, returned home a month ago after serving in Iraq for more than a year.

"I'm just overjoyed to have him home," said Don Morgan, who has lived in Hayden for 44 years. "We're enjoying the parade and enjoying being together."

Although organizers of the parade don't know yet how much money they raised, they estimate about 375 people came to the barbecue after the parade, a number comparative to crowds last year, Northwest Colorado Shriners Club President Raymond Keller said.

"We were very proud of the way it turned out, and hopefully, we made a little money for the hospital also," Keller said.

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