Posts Tagged ‘Fourth of July’

When you live in a tiny rural American community a long distance from a big-city celebration, how do you celebrate the Fourth of July?

It’s pretty simple and as fashionable as apple pie.

You organize a parade. You break out red, white and blue flags and bunting and bling. You designate the local preacher as Grand Marshall. You name Honored Guests—in this case, uh, two grizzly bears entwined in, of all things, fierce battle.

That’s how it went on the morning of the 2018 July 4th in the historic hamlet of Poudre Park in the northern Colorado Rockies.

The parade was the 7th annual—well, maybe the 5th annual as there seems to be some friendly disagreement among local residents about the number of years.

Regardless of how many years, the parade is billed as the “World’s Shortest July 4th Parade with the Biggest Heart.”

The parade originated with the grandkids of residents Stephanie and Bob Maynard riding their bicycles, beautified in patriotic colors, along Poudre Park’s main (and only) avenue—a narrow, dusty, rocky, dirt road.

Photo by Edie Palmer

Something about the grandkids’ display of patriotism caught on in the community of a couple of dozen residents. Parade enthusiasm grew year by year.

The parade route is 509 steps from the starting point at the volunteer firehouse and community center and goes down to the far end of the road, where the parade turns around and retraces its path back.

Time elapsed: seven minutes to make the trip to the end of the road, and another seven minutes back. Hmm, well, a bit of fudging happens and the official roundtrip time is recorded as 20 minutes total. Twenty minutes make the parade more impressive, right?

This year seven floats entered the parade—psst, any mechanical thing that moves on three or more wheels is considered “a float.”

The floats included two golf carts, one driven by a grandma, her young granddaughter in the passenger seat; a tiny battery-powered orange sports car driven by two small youngsters (the kids did pretty good until the driver decided to see if he could drive with closed eyes and accidentally veered toward four spectators lounging roadside in their camp chairs); a sleek red convertible roadster; an SUV pulling a flatbed trailer that displayed a colorful cutout of Uncle Sam and a military veteran and a couple of ladies waving the Stars ‘n Stripes and wearing red, white and blue leis (the vet and ladies were living and breathing people, by the way, as opposed to Uncle Sam); a car chauffeuring the Grand Marshall, Jim Hudson, the 88-year-old preacher (now retired) who founded the Poudre Park nondenominational church; and another truck pulling a flatbed on top of which was a recently completed welded barbed-wire statue of two fighting larger-than-life grizzly bears, the Honored Guests. This was the bears’ first public appearance. It’s a magnificent statue made by Brian Gueswel and his father, Carl, 80, a long-time resident of this hamlet along the Cache la Poudre River.

Photo by Edie Palmer

Oh, just an aside here from the writer of this blog: It took longer to write the above lengthy run-on paragraph than it did for the parade to make its roundtrip journey.

The floats were adorned in red, white and blue everything. A half-dozen kids road alongside on their bikes, similarly decorated. The spectators were garbed in patriotic clothing. One lady also wore blue angel wings on the back of her shoulders. Some guy was donned in a bright, flowery Hawaiian shirt that he claimed attracts hummingbirds, none of which, by the way, visited him during the parade.

As in previous years, the plan was for the parade to be led by the Poudre Canyon Volunteer Fire Department’s shiny red fire truck stationed in Poudre Park. However, the fire truck—moments before the parade started—was called away to make an emergency run to a vehicular accident on Colorado Highway 14 several miles down the canyon from Poudre Park.

Photo by Patty Kimsey

Poudre Park is in a quiet valley encircled by mountains. Colorado Highway 14 runs along the valley’s south; on the north, the river. The hamlet’s usual quietness was broken on July 4 by loud patriotic music thanks to a resident who set up speakers along the parade route.

It would be grand to report that spectators lined the road cheering. The parade started that way, you know, but, as it proceeded on, spectators joined in and proudly marched with the floats.

Suddenly, the number of roadside spectators dwindled to four obviously very wise folks, this writer included, who settled into camp chairs in the cool, lovely shade of a tree, a good place to be as it was a hot, sweaty morning and, of course, those 509 steps are a very long way to go even for those of us who are avid parade watchers, right, uh, sure?

There you have it, what happens on July 4th in a tiny American community. A great parade. The world’s shortest parade. The parade with the biggest heart.

Photo by Edie Palmer

After the parade, it was time in the community center for cinnamon rolls donated by Vern’s, a historic restaurant in nearby LaPorte, Colo. Photos by Edie Palmer.

The parade’s Grand Marshall, Jim Hudson, and his wife, Velma, partaking of cinnamon rolls after the parade.

Photo by Patty Kimsey


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