City celebrates festive Fourth

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— A group of librarians showed the community they can cut loose -- and maneuver a mean book cart -- during Monday's Fourth of July parade.

The annual event had people lining Lincoln Avenue for more than an hour and a half as float-riders went by throwing candy and spraying the crowd with water guns, politicians walked by shaking hands and librarians went by dancing.

"I was so impressed with the librarian drill team," said Sandy Evans Hall, one of the float judges. "They really carried themselves well."

The Steamboat Libraries Freedom Book Cart Drill Team featured several men and women marching down the street with their loaded books carts, dancing to a drill sergeant's commands.

"Sound off, read a book," the drill sergeant yelled through a bullhorn as the librarians criss-crossed their carts during a choreographed routine.

The drill team won best group for this year's parade.

The three judges, Hall, from the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association, Julie Jordan from the city of Steamboat Springs, and Kent Foster from the U.S. Forest Service, judged the 74 entries for best group float, best theme float, best commercial float and best use of the parade theme float. This year's parade theme was "Steamboat Springs show us your age."

The Horizons Child and Family Services float won for best theme, the Boothill Bar & Grill float for best commercial and F.M. Light & Sons for best use of the parade theme. F.M. Light & Sons, which is celebrating its centennial, boasted its age in the parade. Its float featured an enormous yellow two-layer cake with red and white candles and, as the float crossed the judge's stand, riders released 100 yellow balloons into the perfect blue sky.

The Yampa Valley Boys rode on the float, singing a special song written about the store's long history.

Riley Polumbus, communications director for the chamber, said this year's parade was the best-attended event during the Fourth of July weekend and the biggest crowd they have seen in years.

"This is the only 1.5 hours of the whole year that we capture the flavor and unity of the entire community," she said.

The Emerald City Opera's float displayed a cabaret scene from the opera "The Merry Widow."

Holly Firestone, 17, of Craig, was one of the two cabaret girls featured on the float. The women were outfitted in the traditional fishnet hose, feather in the hair, and red ballet skirts.

"It was so hot up there but it was also really fun," she said.

Evans Hall said the chamber only had 34 float entries for the parade last week, and that the additional 40 floats came in last minute.

"It was hard to judge all of these floats and we had about four or five that we wanted for each category," she said.

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