The Crested Butte Independence Day party includes a weird parade

Happy Birthday America!

By Dawne Belloise

It’s the Fourth and in Crested Butte that means there will be a parade. Well, in Crested Butte there is almost always some sort of parade, but the Fourth of July parade is special.

Crested Butte is especially known for its voracious party appetite, community spirit and outrageous parades. Past Fourth of July parades in Crested Butte have included fire jumping (by the mayor), four-wheeling, polka and disco, black powder shooting, snow skiing and lots of dancing.

Throughout the town’s history, Crested Butte’s local population has put on a spectacle of creatively wacky floats and processions every Fourth of July. There were times, back in the early days, that the parade ran both ways because it was so short, going up Elk Avenue and then circling back, turning around at the Four-Way Stop to march back up Elk Avenue.

One of everyone’s all-time yearly favorites parade participants consists of the ecologists and biologists at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL) in Gothic. They’re brilliant researchers and scientists who work hard but let their hair down for Independence Day, marching with spears, banging on pots and pans, with whistles and bells, stilts and primitive painted faces that tell of being too much in the sun alone with plants, insects and marmots. They will sew up their wild selves in only corn lily leaves and scream slogans like, “SAVE A MARMOT, CLOSE THE LID!”

In this community parade, you’ll see kids, dogs, grandparents, Mountain Rendezvous men and women, local royalty like Red Ladies, disco kings and queens, Flauschink Royalty and Has-Beens, fire trucks, mountain guides, town council people and impromptu insanity. Oh, and water. A giant water fight always ends the parade at the top of Elk Avenue, so don’t wander over there unless you are prepared to get realllllly wet. The world-famous water fight takes place west of Second and Elk.

Before the parade is the popular Gothic to Crested Butte 1/3 Marathon for the energetically inclined. Please note that the Mountain Express buses will not be running during the event. Also, the 8:30 a.m. bus to Gothic will not run. The Crested Butte Fire Protection District volunteers also will feed you pancakes and sausage at the fire hall starting at 7 a.m.

This year, there’s music in the street on Elk Avenue with Tyler Hansen kicking off the street dance until 2:30 p.m. and later, on the mountain at the ski area’s Red Lady stage come dance with Panda & the People. It is free and leads the July 4th ooohs and aaahhhs as fireworks explode and dazzle over Mt. Crested Butte. And best of all, beat the traffic and ride the free Mountain Express shuttle buses that will have extra buses on schedule running up to the fireworks and back, starting at 9 p.m. and running until midnight.

Whatever the Fourth means to you, celebrate that you’re here in a very spectacular and special paradise with the freedom to enjoy life to the fullest.

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