Yampa plans fun-packed Fourth

Jungle-themed parade, polo, fireworks, highlight activities

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Potato sacks, polo matches and homemade pie will be the order of the day for Yampa's traditional Fourth of July celebration next weekend. Yampa's festivities start early with a pancake breakfast and end late with the unveiling of a new fireworks finale.

"The day will be full of lots of small-town visiting," event organizer Arlene Porteus said.

The theme of the day is "jungle safari" and it kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Special Olympics Committee.

Yampa's Fourth of July parade starts at 1 p.m., featuring 40-year town resident Hildred Fogg as grand marshal. Floats, politicians, antique cars, horses and children on bicycles are expected to parade down Moffat Avenue then turn the corner and make their way down Main Street. The bicycles are likely to sport decorations such as streamers, cards in the spokes or a monkey on the handle bars -- and all the children who participate get a 50-cent piece, Porteus said. Everyone will be competing for top honors such as best float, best decorated horse and best costume.

"You get a small town like this and think nothing's going on, and suddenly all this stuff happens and thousands of people come out. I don't know where they come from," Fogg said.

Yampa's famous "Band" is also making its eighth annual appearance in the Fourth of July parade.

"Anybody who'd ever bought their high school kid an instrument is dragging them out from under the bed to play them," Porteus said.

The Band, which includes community members from 7 to 70 years old, will be marching backward, playing a medley of instruments and going through the parade twice.

"We have so much fun. Going through once just didn't seem to be enough," Band director Nora Phillips said.

Keeping with the jungle safari theme, the Band plans to play the theme from "George of the Jungle," incorporate an "alternative percussion group" and use tympanis for the first time, Phillips said. The alternative percussion group will be playing rhythms on trash cans, flower pots and trash-can lids. Rehearsals for the all-volunteer Band gear up at 6 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday in the Yampa Elementary School music room, and anyone is welcome to join in.

After the parade, there's a big picnic lunch at Yampa Elementary School featuring resident and town fireworks master Tom Yackey's slow-roasted barbecue beef. The feast raises money for next year's fireworks display.

Yampa's famous homemade pie booth also will be open. Buy a slice or take home the whole pie; all are homemade -- a strict requirement of the Eastern Star ladies who organize the booth, Porteus said.

And when everyone's full, stiff competition for ribbons in the six-member relays will begin on the old football field at Yampa Elementary School. There will be the standard wheelbarrow race, the three-legged race, the egg toss and tug of war -- but there will be a new twist to the competition this year. New relay races will include the "over and under race," a "kangaroo race" where you have to hop with a balloon between your legs, and the "coal shovel race" where one person rides the shovel and another person pulls the rider along.

"It's all just fun. I like to mix it up for all the ages," game organizer Connie Sigler said.

When 4 p.m. rolls around, the Western polo match will begin -- that's broomball on horses. The dirt street will be plowed up to make it softer and anyone with a horse and a broom can show up to play. When teams are divided, they will play three 15-minute periods and the team that wins best of three wins the match.

Immediately after the polo match is a free-for-all horse race roars down the length of Moffat Avenue at high speed. The race is open strictly to horses and riders who played in the polo match.

"No fresh horses, no fresh people," said event organizer Susan Youngland.

Before the race starts, an auctioneer runs a street side "Calcutta" where anyone can bid on a horse and rider to win the race. The town of Yampa gets 10 percent of the proceeds, and the winner gets the pot. The horses line up in a row and off they will go, tearing down the street toward Montgomery's General Merchandise.

When the sun finally goes down, Yampa hosts a full-fledged fireworks display that is visible across town. To top off the fireworks show, a new finale will be unveiled.

"It's a great little display for such a small town," Porteus said.

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