Greeley parade entertains 80,000-plus on July 4th holiday
Some 2005 demographic figures on the Internet estimate the population of Greeley, Colo., to be 82,836 people. If that is close to accurate, then a crowd the size of the entire population of Greeley showed up, and shows up every year, for the annual Greeley Stampede Independence Day Parade. With over 130 entries, the red, white and blue themed event ran a course from one side of the city to the other; and played to overflowing curbs and sidewalks the entire way.
“The parade is a huge tradition and a vital part of the (Stampede) celebration,” said Justin Watada, Greeley Stampede Marketing Director. “Even though it was not televised this year, it was another fantastic parade. We actually had a couple more entries this year than last. The parade is a lot of hard work and it is cool to see people laying out tarps and blankets a week before to stake their spot.”
The key to “staking out a spot” is finding a place that will be in shade the entire time. Finding people who claimed a prime location was easy on the morning of the parade. All you had to do was look to see who was sitting on a tarp or canvas in the shade and right next to the curb.
Three such procession watchers were JoAnn Mueller, her mother Eltie Ferris (95 years old) and sister Lois Burnett. Perched on three comfy looking collapsible chairs, the trio relaxed, talked and read newspaper sections before the parade kicked off.
“My husband brought this tarp on Monday (to reserve our space),” said Mueller on Saturday morning’s holiday, a broad smile filling her expression. “The chairs, he brought earlier this morning.”
When asked why they have attended the parade on a regular basis for about 30 years, the ladies had an easy answer.
“It brings so many people out together that have one aim, and that’s to enjoy themselves and celebrate our concept of independence on the Fourth,” said Mueller. “It’s just part of Greeley and the Fourth of July celebration.”
“And it’s fun,” chimed in Lois with a friendly smile.
It wasn’t just fun for the adult crowd, families with children thronged the sides of the streets by the thousands in order to catch a glimpse of everything going by.
“The kids really enjoy it (and) they have a good time,” said Brian Suhr, a dad from Brighton who brought his patriotic dressed children to a nice location on the curb. According to dad, James (four years old) and Avery (two years old) couldn’t wait for the festivities to start. “When James got up this morning, the first thing he said was, ‘I’m really excited to go to the parade,'” revealed a proud father while his wife snapped photos from the street.
“I like the marching bands,” said young James when asked what he liked most about the parade.
“I like the horses,” said an emphatic Avery about her preference.
Other families were just as enthusiastic.
“The little ones always like the horses and the steers,” said Shane Danhoff as he watched the parade with his children and a nephew. Danhoff has been coming on and off for 25 years, and plans on returning for many more. “I think we’ll keep coming back until (our children) are sick of it,” he added with a laugh. “Then they will have their kids and we’ll keep doing this with their kids and grandkids and great grandkids.”
It wasn’t just fun for the spectators, parade participants had a good time, as well.
“It’s always fun to hear the crowd’s reaction,” said Susan Oldenbaugh, a clarinet player in the Pride of the Valley Alumni Band. “It’s nice to come back and see old friends and see how much the band program really meant to us when we were in High School. So it was a lot of fun.”
“It was good, it was a lot of fun. It’s always fun,” agreed Lori Chermack, another band member, about getting to see old friends and march in the festivities. “I’ve done this probably 10 or 11 years.”
“I think the Wranglers do an awesome job of putting this together,” praised Janet Crispin, a third band member excited about getting together with friends and old classmates every year. “You can’t imagine how much work this is, it puts me in awe,” she finished with a laugh.
“The parade is about showcasing the Greeley Stampede and other community groups, events and people,” summed up Watada about the annual event. “It showcases a strong sense of community pride.”
With 80,000-plus people attending each and every year, the community’s pride and patriotic spirit is not only showcased, it’s on full display every Fourth of July.
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