It was red, white and blue with lots of candy, water and smiles.
Under blue skies and lots of sunshine, Aspen celebrated the Fourth of July in its own unique way.
For more than two hours, hundreds of participants draped in colorful patriotic costumes passed thousands of spectators as Aspen recognized the 238th birthday of America in grand style.
“It’s everybody partying together,” said Ashley Hart, of Evergreen. “Age doesn’t matter today. We’re all honoring our troops and celebrating being free.”
There were firetrucks, sports cars, veterans, floats, bicycles, gymnasts, horses, alpacas, lots of dogs and a giant, green caterpillar.
In other words, something for everyone.
“I love this,” said Graham Sparks, a Rhode Island native who now lives in Aspen. “It’s awesome to see the whole town coming out on the Fourth. It’s one of my favorite celebrations. You get the same vibe from everyone. It’s great to have a day like this.”
The parade started at 11 a.m., an hour earlier than in past years. The string of patriotic displays seemed endless during the two-hour parade. The fire departments from Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt kicked off the procession and occasionally shot water at and around the crowds of squealing kids and grown-ups.
Dr. Barry Mink, the parade’s grand marshal, was all smiles as he waved at folks from a shiny blue Mustang convertible. Norma Dolle was the parade queen.
The biggest cheers were saved for the procession of military veterans. There were men and women carrying signs that identified soldiers from World War II through the most recent Middle Eastern operations. Many of the veterans couldn’t help but show their appreciation and thanked the crowd for its support.
As usual, there was plenty of swag getting tossed into the crowd. Thousands of miniature Laffy Taffy and Tootsie Roll candies were tossed into the crowds, leaving some kids with pockets stuffed with sweets. Fans of bicycles got to see a broad range of styles and colors, from old-fashioned Schwinn classics to a unicycle with three wheels stacked on top of one another.
Savanna Hale, 11, who was born in Aspen but now lives in Grand Junction, has seen the Aspen Fourth of July parade 11 times. As far as Hale is concerned, the parade gets better every year.
“I like the floats, the candy and getting sprayed with water,” she said. “It’s really fun and nice to watch.”
The parade gives everyone a different look at Aspen as many businesses, clubs, camps and nonprofits are represented. There were miniature ponies, girls doing handstands on top of moving trucks, classic antique automobiles, shirtless men from the play “The Full Monty,” live classic-rock music on the back of a truck, skiers, hockey players and even an appearance from Smokey Bear.
Chad Rubenstein lives in Orlando, Florida, but has attended four Aspen Fourth of July parades.
“This event is so American,” he said. “It’s really fun and gives this community a chance to celebrate together.”