Parade draws patriots, princesses, pugs |

Parade draws patriots, princesses, pugs

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Aspen was the place to be for the Fourth of July – so said part-time Aspen Glen residents John and Connie Thorsen. The Thorsens also have a home in Miami, but they make a point of coming to Aspen every year for the Fourth of July parade.”This is much more fun,” Connie said, showing her enthusiasm in head-to-toe red, white and blue attire. “It’s funky, mountainy. Everybody has a good time.”The mountain town parade began with the roar of motorcycles, as scores of bikers took to the street. Local firefighters kept the noise level high, blaring sirens as passengers hucked candy to the crowds, and the Aspen Music Festival threw down a little funk of its own with an all-drum band. Past parades have included dogs aplenty, but this year a passel of pugs was the main canine attraction.Funky turned to patriotic as crowds watched U.S. military veterans make their way down Main Street.”That’s the whole purpose behind the parade,” John Thorsen said. “It just makes us proud to be Americans.”

The veterans also made a strong impression on Marysue Bobzien of Denver.”I liked how all the veterans had the different signs for how they served their country,” she said. “And everybody clapped for them. … There was definitely a lot of enthusiasm. That’s cool.”Bobzien and her family were camping in Twin Lakes, and made the trip over Independence Pass for the Independence Day parade. Her son, Jack, 12, said he really likes the Steamboat Springs parade but that Aspen’s “is up there with the top ones.” Jack, taking a risk wearing a Vail T-shirt, said he’d reserve final judgment until after the parade.The highlight for many spectators might have been the veterans, but it was a different story for kids in the crowd.For 5-year-old Erin Ecclestone, the best part of the parade was the candy. Erin’s brother Edwin, 8, preferred the fire trucks, and Edwin’s twin, Elizabeth, liked the horses.Four-year-old cyclist Lourdes “Lulu” Ferreira said she’s been riding her bike for about 20 years – although her mom, Colleen, estimates it’s been more like six months. Either way, Lulu was excited about taking part in the festivities.

“I wanted to bike in the parade,” she said, pedaling her pink princess bike down Mill Street after riding in the parade.Local Gulf War veterans Jim Korpela and Dwayne Romero, who graduated from West Point together in 1987, appreciated the turnout and all the support.”It’s a kick,” Romero said. “It’s an opportunity for the community to say ‘thanks’ and for the veterans to say ‘thanks’ back.”Ironically, the only demonstrator they noticed was one in their own group – a veteran carrying an “Impeach Bush” sign. Korpela joked that they tried to stay away from him because he drew “boos” from the crowds.”The general consensus for a lot of us is he can say what he wants – but not in the parade,” he said.

Romero was quick to find the good in the situation, though.”That’s the cool part of it is it’s freedom of speech,” he said. “That’s what we fight for.”Aside from the parade, it was an uneventful day for Aspen police, with no fights or ambulance calls by late afternoon.Officer Roderick O’Connor said he thought Basalt and Carbondale might see more people for their fireworks shows, but he expected Aspen wouldn’t be as busy without the extra people who usually come to town for the fireworks display.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is

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