Aspen ready to celebrate freedom | AspenTimes.com

Aspen ready to celebrate freedom

Naomi HavlenAspen Times Staff Writer

If the level of traffic in town isn’t already an indication, Independence Day celebrations even without pyrotechnics are bringing visitors to Aspen.Hana Pevny, president of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, said a “very full day of old-fashioned Fourth of July activities” is planned for today beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until almost midnight.The annual fireworks display over Aspen Mountain was canceled due to extreme drought conditions, and ACRA found itself scrambling to produce nighttime entertainment to take the place of aerial explosives. ACRA is sponsoring a block party of sorts to be held tonight at 8:15 on the edge of Wagner Park with “music for all ages,” Pevny said.As for the day’s events, the Boogie’s Diner Buddy 5-mile race to benefit the Buddy Program will weave through Aspen beginning at 8 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. Kids’ Bicycle Rodeo at Paepcke Park. The activity will allow kids to decorate their bikes for the city’s noon parade. Helmets are mandatory for the parade.The second annual “America’s Birthday Carnival,” sponsored by the Early Learning Center, will run from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The carnival will feature a sack race at 11:30 a.m. and a pie-eating contest at 1:30 p.m.The Fourth of July parade down Main Street starts with a U.S. Air Force flyby at noon. At 1 p.m. the Aspen Valley Ski/Snowboard Club will hold its seventh annual community picnic in Koch Park at the base of Shadow Mountain.At 2 p.m. a free skating exhibition will be held at the Aspen Ice Garden, and from 2 to 6 p.m. the Aspen Highlands Community Picnic at Highlands Village will celebrate with a barbecue, live music featuring Bobby Mason & Smokin’ Joe Kelly and the Harley-Davidson Motorcycle rally.A “New England Lobster Bake” will be held at the St. Regis from 3 to 7 p.m. For $44 per adult and $10 for children 12 and under, participants can feast on Maine lobster, oysters, clam chowder, shrimp shooters and more traditional Independence Day fare like bratwurst and coleslaw.Free music starts at 7 p.m. at the Benedict Music Tent by the Aspen Music Festival Band, featuring songs by American composers such as George Gershwin and Phillip Sousa, as well as traditional patriotic tunes.At 8:15 p.m. the “Dancing in the Streets” community dance/concert featuring Network will be held on the mall near Wagner Park.”I hope we’ll be able to give everyone in Aspen, whether families, young adults or visitors, a whole choice of activities to participate in,” Pevny said. “And I hope they’ll stay in our commercial core and it will all benefit local businesses.”[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com.]