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Crowds take to the streets to enjoy the Buena Vista July 4 Parade. Photo by Carly Winchell

Massive crowds lined East Main Street to watch the 2023 Buena Vista July 4 parade. Emcee Jim Vowell of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation estimated nearly 2,000 people, saying it was the largest crowd in the history of the event.

The July 4 parade contained nearly 60 entries with more than one thousand people lining the streets to watch.

Attendees held their spots along the streets by setting up lawn chairs, claiming the shaded spots first on the sunny day. The parade itself kicked off with our National Anthem, with the American Legion holding aloft the flag.

The parade featured nearly 60 entries from various local businesses and organizations. The Fire Department handed out popsicles to keep the crowd cool while Chaffee County Search and Rescue passed out bottled water instead of candy to keep attendees safe and well-hydrated.

Smokey the Bear made an appearance to a chorus of cheers as Vowell reminded everyone of the importance of practicing fire safety while enjoying campfires.

Commissioner Keith Baker marches with the Chaffee County Democrats in the July 4 parade. Photo by Carly Winchell

County Commissioner Keith Baker marched with a sizable group of the Chaffee County Democrats earning encouraging shouts of support and appreciation from several members of the crowd. Commissioner Baker flashed a peace sign to the crowd while holding a large American flag.

The League of Women Voters marched with signs reminding attendees of the importance of voting. An awkward moment ensued when Vowell referred to them collectively as ladies, earning the ire of some men who walked with the group as well.

Sticking to the political theme, a group marched in support of a local petition. Their float and truck sported a QR code leading to According to the site, the purpose of the petition is to “demand the Chaffee County Board of Commissioners reject the proposed location for a geothermal power plant on Rodeo Road near County Road 323”, and to “demand representation from our member-owned electric coop, (SDCEA) to ensure they fiduciarily represent their member’s best interest regarding development of geothermal energy” in the valley. Those interested were encouraged by the group to sign the petition at their booth in McPhelemy Park or take a picture with their phone to sign online.

Mammoth made of stucco and rebar at the July 4 parade by local artist Warren Schoedel. Photo by Carly Winchell

A giant mammoth skeleton, complete with a bow tie, rolled down the street. Made of stucco and rebar, the sculpture was created by the same artist who designed its fully furred counterpart that stands in front of the Buena Vista Heritage Museum.

Nonprofit Mini Blessings marched down the street with miniature horses adorned with red, white, and blue bowties. The local nonprofit provides equine-guided interactions and equine-assisted learning to many different people within the Central Colorado region. More information is available on their website here.

Noah’s Ark and Team River Runners sported true Ark Valley floats. Team River Runner had a kayak strapped to the top of their truck while pulling another on wheels behind their trailer. Noah’s Ark staff piled on their rafts pulled behind the bus usually used to transport guests to their launch site for a day of whitewater fun.

After the parade finished its route, most of the crowd headed to check out the vendors, food, and live music in McPhelemy Park. Honey, art, alpaca clothing, and other products filled various booths. Fireworks are still scheduled to begin at dusk (around 8:30 p.m.) at the Rodeo Grounds on Gregg Drive.