Steamboat’s history and its future on display at annual Diamond Hitch Parade | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s history and its future on display at annual Diamond Hitch Parade

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Saturday provided the snow, and there was plenty of sunshine downtown Sunday to conclude the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's 105th Winter Carnival.

After a final round of donkey jumps, shovel racing and skijoring, a modern snowcat created a smooth service for the Diamond Hitch Parade. It is a tradition started in 1927 by the Ladies Recreation Club, which had the idea to march down Lincoln Avenue in a diamond hitch formation wearing colorful costumes.

The 82 members of the famous Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band were followed by Winter Carnival grand marshals Joe and Sara Bishop, who were introduced to the community Saturday night before the Night Extravaganza fireworks.

"It's been a lot of fun," Sara Bishop said. "Being on that stage and seeing all the people and all the energy from the cheering and all the athletes. You really see the community come out."

The Bishops, who have lived in Steamboat for 17 years and are longtime Winter Sports Club supporters, rode a buggy pulled by two Belgian draft horses named Behla and Annie, the latter being 23 years old.

"This one's been doing it for a long, long time," said Dave Schulz, who trained both the horses. "She's been doing it since she was a 3-year-old. She used to pull the rugby team. That's what got her all started in this."

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Schulz moved to Steamboat in 1982.

"Back when everybody used to have a team of draft horses to feed their cows," Schulz said. "Now, everybody uses tractors versus like the other morning when it was -18 degrees, and nobody's tractors would start."

Other relics from simpler times in Steamboat were also on display at the parade, like the three Tucker snowcats brought by Ski Haus.

Ski Haus owner Rod Schrage just finished refurbishing a 1970 Tucker that can fit about eight people. It was found at a ranch in North Routt County.

"I've always loved snowcats and Tuckers especially," Schrage said. "They're built in Oregon and have been essentially the same for the last 50 years. The concept has always been the same."

The future of Steamboat was also on display for the Diamond Hitch Parade with Winter Sports Club athletes and a flatbed packed with students from Mountain Village Montessori Charter School.

Michael Girodo recently started as the head of school for Montessori, which has 185 students from preschool through sixth grade.

"This is my first carnival," Girodo said. "I'm really excited. This is a great community gathering, not only for the school as you can see here with all the great family and participation, but for the whole community. It's kind of a big deal of getting everybody together. We love it."

Steamboat's Winter Carnival began as a way for community members to take a break and come together during the harsh Northwest Colorado winters, but some of the parade's participants live for it.

For about 20 years, Beth Dennehy has been bringing together Steamboat's Bernese mountain dogs.

"They wait all year long for the snow, and they love it," Dennehy said. "Anybody that has a Bernese mountain dog can come and walk with us on this special day."

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.