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Regardless of the fire ban and lack of patriotic fireworks, the Fourth of July holiday events went off with a bang in Buena Vista. Though local businesses and the town’s chamber of commerce were concerned about the effects from nearby fires and stage 2 fire restrictions, the majority of lodging was booked and available camping areas were scarce, according to the Chaffee County Visitors Bureau.

The day was filled with a variety of family-friendly activities beginning with the BV Optimist Club’s annual pancake breakfast in Columbine Park, which drew a large crowd, and the Fourth of July Parade at 10 am.

Jamie Hagen, marketing director for the BV Chamber of Commerce, was pleased with the turnout for the parade, including the higher number of walking participants and inventive floats. She said the BV school district, with Lisa Yates coordinating, won best float with their Mahalo (meaning thank you) themed mobile, and she was excited to include music in this year’s parade with the middle school and high school jazz bands getting involved.

“We also had some great walking and biking parade participants. The Boys and Girls Club won best walking parade. We are trying to evolve our Fourth of July and Christmas Opening parades to include many more innovative walking participants to showcase our creative spirit and local community flair,” said Hagen.

The chamber’s big event for the day was Art in the Park, in conjunction with XIMU, which had a record 48 booths and vendors offering everything from food to locally made art, pottery, jewelry and crafts. Hagen said vendors she talked to were extremely pleased with the turnout and the large number of out-of-state attendees. Volunteers involved with events such as the Rotary Cookout at Forest Square Park and the free Mountain Mantra concert at McPhelemy Park were also pleasantly surprised with the large turnout throughout the day.

“We are a safe haven for families. We get so many calls and inquiries about what we are offering for things to do on the Fourth. Also, our locals have come to expect the many events and traditions – candy at the parades, kids games, water play, Art in the Park, pie sale, pancake breakfast, American Legion lunch, quilt show, museum discounts, et cetera. It is expected!” she said.

“We still could use some family friendly events in the later afternoon and evening when visitors and locals are still anxious for our small-town experiences. Local businesses have opportunities for increased sales and awareness by capturing this later afternoon-early evening crowd and/or opening early for parade attendees.”

Town Administrator Phillip Puckett was out and about enjoying the festivities with his family. He said he was thrilled to see the large crowds throughout the town despite the fire danger and road closures.

“We had a great time in BV today with our family and friends,” Puckett said. ”Even though we have fire restrictions and no fireworks this evening, the day was still filled with plenty of activities and lots of friendly faces. There was a huge turnout at the pancake breakfast, parade and Art in the Park.  It was great to see everyone in good spirits and a fun day to celebrate America’s birthday.”

Though the holiday was on a Wednesday and more difficult for travelers, the overall nostalgia of Independence Day and the traditions BV has instilled were in full swing and had an overall greater success than last year’s operations.

“I always enjoy watching the children at the parade – the thrilling looks on their faces, smiles and rushing for the candy.  We work very hard on the Fourth. I remember sitting down for a moment by the depot. It seemed very much worth all of the effort watching these happy families sharing the Fourth with each other. It is so rewarding to have our small town bring such happiness to thousands of people,” Hagen said.