No explosives, but Aspen still fired up over the Fourth of July

Fourth of July parade route
Aspen Chamber Resort Association | Aspen Chamber Resort Association

July 4 in Aspen events

What: Boogie’s Buddy Race

When: 8 a.m.

Where: Rio Grande Park

Details: In its 32nd year, the event includes a 5-mile USA Track & Field certified competitive race and a 1-mile Family and Canine run/walk. Online registration is open at

What: Kids bicycle parade decorating

When: 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Where Paepcke Park

Details: It is free to participate but helmets are required to ride in the parade.

What: 18th annual America’s Birthday Carnival

Where: Paepcke Park

When 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Details: Early Learning Center’s kids’ carnival in Paepcke Park features carnival games, bounce houses, face painting, snow cones, music, silent auction and barbecue lunch.

What: Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade

When: 11 a.m.

Where: Parade begins on Main Street and goes through downtown Aspen

What: AVSC Community Picnic

When: Noon to 3 p.m.

Where: Koch Lumber Park

Details: Live music, kids games, volleyball, dunk tank, an adult beverage garden, and Crystal River Meats grass-fed burgers will be on hand.

What: Aspen Music Festival & School’s free Fourth of July Concert

When: 4 p.m.

Where: Benedict Music Tent

What: Aspen Volunteer Fire Department block party and fundraiser

When: 5 to 9 p.m.

Where: In front of the fire station on the 400 block of East Hopkins Avenue

Details: Live music, food and beer garden; proceeds benefit fire department and Mountain Rescue Aspen

What: Drone light show

When: 9:15 p.m.

Where: Wagner Park

Source: Aspen Chamber Resort Association

Aspen’s Fourth of July festivities won’t begin nor end Wednesday like they traditionally do, but revelers will have plenty of festivities to enjoy nonetheless.

Mother Nature’s tinder box conditions are to blame for the cancellation of Independence Day’s two bookmark festivities — the ceremonial dawn-time firing of the cannon from Smuggler Mountain and the evening’s fireworks show.

“We just decided we’ll let it be,” said Jay Parker, the chief igniter of the four-barrel steel cannon, which has served as Aspen’s 6 a.m. July 4 alarm bell — or rude awakening, depending on whom you ask — dating back to the mid-1970s.

Parker said Monday he is honoring the request of the Aspen fire marshal, who asked not to blast the cannon this year.

“We’ll make up for it next year,” he said. “If we fire the canon, you know everybody else will think they can (ignite fireworks).”

On Friday, Upper Colorado River Fire Management Unit announced Stage II fire restrictions for the 2.3 million acres it supervises in central and western Colorado, joining Pitkin County in the restrictions that include the ban of fireworks, rockets and incendiary ammunition.

“This is the worst year I’ve ever seen,” Parker said.

As such, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which puts on the day’s closing fireworks exhibition, has replaced the display with a 50-drone light show to be put on by Michigan-based Great Lakes Drone Co. Other drones, ACRA said, are not allowed to participate. Wagner Park is one of the best viewing places for the show.

If you plan to drive into Aspen for the Fourth, take heed. Parking in town will be limited, but free parking will be available at the Brush Creek Park and Ride with free bus service to and from Aspen. Bus information is available at or 970-925-8484.

The absence of pyrotechnic offerings aside, Aspen will have ample events throughout the day (see factbox), starting at 8 a.m. with the Boogie’s Buddy Race, a 5-mile footrace that starts and finishes at Rio Grande Park. This year’s race, like last year’s, is being presented by East Coast Asset Management-Michael Connolly.

Connolly, an Aspen resident, said the event is close to his heart.

“It’s the perfect thing to do in my honor of my dad,” he said, noting his father, a regular contestant in the race, died in 2014. Connolly and his wife, Ashley, also will take on the hilly race and both are often at the top of the leader board.

The benefit will include the 1-mile Family and Canine Run/Walk, which also starts at 8 a.m. Both events are expected to draw a combined field of more than 1,000 participants.

Later in the morning, from 9:30 to 11 a.m., parents can bring their children to Paepcke Park to decorate their bicycles to ride in the Fourth of July parade.

Leading the little ones in the parade will be Aspen biking aficionado Charlie Tarver, who said, “I’ll bring the decorations. Mom and dad can bring water.” Helmets also are required and it is free to participate. Registration is not required.

ACRA’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July Parade will start at 11 a.m. on Main and Monarch streets and meander through the downtown streets before finishing at Hyman Avenue and Monarch Street.

This year’s grand marshal is Wylie “Joe” High, a 31-year resident of the Roaring Fork Valley who “is known for being what some might call the epitome of a humanitarian,” ACRA said in an announcement. High is the patient representative/concierge at Aspen Valley Hospital, a volunteer at Aspen schools and sits on the Aspen Homeless Shelter and Pitkin County Senior Council.

Other festivities include the America’s Birthday Carnival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Paepcke Park, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s Community Picnic from noon to 3 p.m. at Koch Lumber Park, Aspen Music Festival and School’s free Fourth of July Concert at 4 p.m. at Benedict Music Tent, and Aspen Volunteer Fire Department’s block party and fundraiser from 5 to 9 p.m. in front of the fire station on Hopkins Avenue. The fundraiser also benefits Mountain Rescue Aspen.

Snowmass will host its own Independence Day celebrations from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Base Village. Happenings will include kickball, LED bocce ball, badminton and Frisbees, along with a bounce house, a scavenger hunt with patriotic prizes and free sweet treats from The Sled Mobile Kitchen including ice cream, pie and brownies.

DJ G6 will provide the tunes and the Bitsy Caravan will feature a photo booth. Circus performers also will be on hand to teach face painting and creating balloon animals, ribbons and hoops. The instructors also will perform and teach their skills onstage.

The family-friendly gathering Wednesday also will coincide with the 45th annual Snowmass Rodeo. Doors to the rodeo open at 5 p.m. and the show kicks off at 7 p.m.

For more information on Snowmass’ Fourth of July party or rodeo, visit

Staff writer Erica Robbie contributed to this report.


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