Steamboat celebrates Fourth of July with Lincoln Avenue festivities

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Jackson Stevenson, 9, hurls a handful of candy into the crowd of spectators during the annual Fourth of July parade on Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday morning.

— The weather was hot, but there wasn't much trouble staying cool at the Fourth of July Parade on Lincoln between Sixth and 11th streets Wednesday. Whether it was a free flavored ice or a water gun dousing from a parade float, there were plenty of ways to beat the mid-80s temperatures and enjoy the parade.

The numbers tell the story. Euzoa Bible Church filled a truck with 3,000 bottles of water to pass out. The Steamboat Christian Center brought 2,000 Popsicles to give out. And the Tread of Pioneers Museum expected to go through 27 gallons of ice cream and 62 liters of root beer making "Routt Beer Floats" for their annual Pioneer Day Block Party immediately following the parade.

Many floats carried pools full of water to load water guns and spray the crowd.

"We've got a pool in there that holds 50 to 60 gallons of water and we're going to spray everybody," said Brad Piske, a Steamboat Springs Swim Team board member. "It's probably the noisiest float in the parade."

Shannon Lukens, another swim team board member, said the team participates in the parade every year, and the hardest part is setting up and getting squirt guns in the hands of about 100 kids.

Eight-year-old Libby Lukens said she looked forward to spraying her cousin, Nate, who was visiting from Tennessee, and Haley Piske said her goal was to squirt everyone in her eighth-grade class.

The swim team hoped to curry favor with the parade judges this year by providing them with umbrella shields for when their float passed by. The umbrella proved useless for parade judge and city councilman Loui Antonucci, who dared the kids to spray him then hid behind the umbrella, only to be completely drenched when he lifted the umbrella a few moments later to take a peak.

The parade was a boon to many businesses on Lincoln Avenue. Restaurants with outdoor seating such as Winona's were packed. Others, such as Old Town Pub and The Tap House, opened their doors earlier than usual. Gary Saxe, co-owner of the The Tap House, said things wouldn't get really busy until after the parade, but that people appreciated being able to come in and cool off, use the restrooms or get something to drink. Saxe opened the bar early too to accommodate "early revelers."

Parade participants were judged by City Clerk Julie Jordan, Antonucci and Sandy Evans Hall, executive vice president of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association. The parade's grand marshal was Bill Hill, a former executive director of the Chamber. Hill started at the Chamber in 1978. He initiated the "Enjoy Another Day in Steamboat" campaign, which aimed at enticing tourists to extend their stays. Hill was instrumental in the formation of Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat, originally called the Yampa Valley College, and the Yampa Valley Foundation. He chaired the Chamber's Economic Development Council for five years in the 1980s.

Parade award winners included the United Methodist Church of Steamboat Springs for best theme, the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School & Camp for best group, High Meadows Ranch for best commercial float. And an honorable mention award went to Never Forgotten, which fielded a 1955 Chevy in the parade with the names of 3,500 POW and MIA soldiers painted on it.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210

or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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