Mike Darrah, of Boulder, waves from the driver’s seat of his 1949 Tucker Snowcat during the Diamond Hitch Parade on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat in 2010. This year’s parade starts at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Mike Darrah, of Boulder, waves from the driver’s seat of his 1949 Tucker Snowcat during the Diamond Hitch Parade on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat in 2010. This year’s parade starts at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6.

84th Diamond Hitch Parade to slide down Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat

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Participants in the Diamond Hitch Parade show their American spirit in red, white and blue at Winter Carnival.

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Check out a complete list of events for this year's Winter Carnival here.

— There can’t be many parades that require tire chains or four-wheel drive for participants.

That’s because few events include a tradition like the Diamond Hitch Parade, which takes place Feb. 6 during the 98th annual Winter Carnival in Steamboat Springs.

The parade features a nontraditional premise: Instead of floats, teams of skiers and snowboarders are pulled by animals, tractors or cars, holding on to a loop of rope in the shape of a diamond.

Tons of snow will be hauled in and laid down on Lincoln Avenue for an exhibition of winter games and street events Feb. 5 and 6, with the parade beginning at about 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6.

“How many parades are done in the middle of Main Street on snow?” said Caroline Bohlmann, special events director for the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which presents and organizes the Winter Carnival. “It’s just different.”

Led by the Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band, the Diamond Hitch Parade features local organizations, businesses and school groups towed in formations one, two and three diamonds deep. The parade is expected to finish at about noon.

“It started just as something to get at people’s cabin fever, to get people out of the house,” Bohlmann said about Winter Carnival.

The parade began in 1927 with the Ladies Recreation Club sliding down Lincoln Avenue in the diamond hitch formation.

In its 84th year, the parade draws about 25 groups who are judged on costumes and decorations that fit this year’s theme, Building Athletes … Building Individuals.

The theme, Bohlmann said, is meant to reflect the effect that sports involvement has on children’s lives.

Winter recreation “is a great activity, but it also applies to their life and life lessons,” she said.

Diamond hitch riders who want to be judged are required to be on skis or snowboards and must hold their diamond for the entire parade. Carnival judges award prizes in four categories: primary (kindergarten through fifth grade), intermediate (sixth through 12th grade), adult and commercial.

And, in another unique Steamboat twist, extra points will be awarded for Telemark stances and music that the judges can hear.

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