Aspen’s re-imagined Fourth of July festivities include parade |

Aspen’s re-imagined Fourth of July festivities include parade

After a year of analysis, city of Aspen is bringing tradition and new components to daylong celebration on tap this summer

The annual Old Fashioned Fourth of July parade in 2017 along Aspen’s Main Street.
Anna Stonehouse / Aspen Times file

Aspenites love a parade and that’s just what they’ll get this Fourth of July.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic and a year of checking in with the community on how it wants to celebrate the holiday in the future, the city of Aspen will bring back the parade, albeit shorter than what it has been in the past.

The parade, which will follow the traditional route through town starting on Main Street and ending on Hyman Avenue, will last one hour from 11 a.m. to noon with limited entrants, according to Nancy Lesley, director of marketing and special events for the city.

“People want tradition, people want old-fashioned, people want it community-based,” she said.

The city’s citizen-based Commercial Core and Lodging Commission will oversee selecting parade entrants, which will be based partly around a chosen theme. The CCLC also will jury the parade and judge entrants, which in the past was led by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association.

“We are going to meet with CCLC to work out those details,” Lesley said. “We’ve landed on how the format of the day is going to be, but the devil is in the details.”

A carry-over from COVID-19 restrictions that was popular with participants last year is the closing of streets in the downtown core for booths and interactive public experiences.

That will occur this year from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a display of classic cars.

Thousands of people came out for the Fourth of July celebration on Sunday, July 4, 2021, in downtown Aspen.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

A committee comprised of Aspen City Councilman Ward Hauenstein, former Councilwoman Ann Mullins, Aspen resident Stephanie Soldner, as well as city staffers Sandra Doebler and Lesley, was formed early last year and tasked with taking a closer look at Fourth of July festivities.

For the past year, the committee met with stakeholders and members of the public before determining a parade route and designing a holiday focused on patriotism, creating a community-wide celebration and a day where most everyone feels there is something of interest, or that they can connect with, according to Lesley.

The committee heard public sentiment around many of the traditional elements of the parade, including the Bergman family’s calliope, the flyover of fighter jets, kids’ bike decorating and participation, classic cars, veterans and first responders, to name a few.

“We are really excited for the Fourth of July,” Lesley said. “The committee did such a great job listening to the community.”

Staff has requested the use of the ongoing, unobligated balance of $43,000 in the mayor and council budget for tourism and marketing, as well as an ongoing appropriation increase of $37,000.

That money will be used primarily for evening entertainment, including a laser light show in Wagner Park, as well as outreach and marketing, and new components and enhancements to the traditional Fourth of July celebration.

“The whole theme is turn it into a family-centric event, not as commercial-centric and not as rowdy,” Hauenstein said.

Attendees were treated to a laser light show to cap off the Fourth of July festivities on Sunday, July 4, 2021, at Wagner Park in downtown Aspen. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

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