Since 1949, Leadville has held a celebration in honor of its mining
heritage (if this is #57, they must have skipped one year). Jim and I have been present at
four or five of them during the
21st Century and we can tell you it's a hoot to watch these folks
recreate the wild and wooly West.
Is it 1887 or 2007??
Although local citizens have been preparing for this year's event
since the last one ended, we didn't notice much going on until Friday.
Signs were erected to detour traffic around several blocks of Harrison Avenue,
the main street through town. Arts, crafts, and food booths were being set
up along Fifth, Sixth, and Harrison. Every store announced the event
with large posters and guides to the event.
the grocery store was selling pink and black garter belts with ribbons
proclaiming it was time once again for the party to begin.
Closer to us, posts were placed to hold the yellow tape that was
strung along the road in front of Jack's property so people attending
the rodeo next door wouldn't park in his meadow or driveway. Our buddy
Mike Hickman is selling tickets and directing traffic into the rodeo
again so we can gain egress to our camper whenever we go in and out in
the truck. Jim helped Mike sell tickets last year and this year but
neither of us has attended the rodeo before.
Let's start with the "Wild and Wooly West" parade this morning.
That's this year's theme, by the way.
Each year the Leadville Trail 100 is one of
dozens of organizations represented in the
parade. Thanks to the influence of race director (and former state
senator) Ken Chlouber, the runners and cyclists who carry the LT100
banner get a very early position in the parade instead of having to wait
in place up to ninety minutes. That's how long it takes the parade
to v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y make its way down about six blocks of
Harrison Ave. (It's not lost on me that the parade goes downhill instead
So in the years when Jim and I decide to march in the parade instead
of just view it from curbside we're done in about fifteen minutes
and can watch the rest of the participants, shop the stores that are
open, mingle with friends, whatever.
We went to the usual staging spot about half an hour early and
chatted with Ken, his wife Pat, Merilee
O'Neal (co-director of the LT100 races), Jan and Bill Moyer, Joe Lugiano,
Don Adolf, Max Welker, Marge and Hike Hickman, and other runners and
cyclists getting ready for the parade.
Don Adolph and Joe Lugiano
Bill Moyer, Merilee O'Neal, Ken Chlouber
Max Welker, Joe Lugiano, Jim O'Neil
Jan Moyer and Marge Hickman choose Mardi Gras beads
to throw to the crowd
Attached to Ken's pick-up was a "float" (a metal mesh trailer)
decorated with hay bales, a saddle, a steer skull, and other western
accoutrements. New this year would be four
mountain bikers riding up a ramp at the back of the trailer and down a
side ramp while the float was slowly moving down Harrison Ave.
It worked, too. And it wasn't any goofier than all those aging
Shriners riding their tiny cars and motorcycles around and around in
A flyover by three 1943 North American A-6 Texan planes got
everyone's attention. I got a good photo of them in last year's Boom
Days entry (2006 journal, August 6) but not this year.
Then the parade began with this year's honorary
grand marshals, the Leadville Police Department, in the lead, followed
by the Fire Department and the American Legion's Flag Corps.
Then it was our turn.
I wanted to take photos along the route so I chose to help carry the
LT100 banner instead of throwing Mardi Gras beads to the crowd. I knew I
could let go of the banner occasionally to get some shots of the crowd
and the cyclists doing loops through and around our float.
Mike and Marge Hickman
One year we had fun with the banner, rotating in circles around the
person in the middle as we walked down the street. No one seemed
interested in that this year so we just very slowly walked and waved to
Some of you will notice that two of the three buildings
shown in the photos above are alcoholic beverage establishments. What
can I say? Back in it heyday, Leadville had more saloons than all the
other businesses combined. Gift shops fill many of those buildings now,
but you can still find several bars in town.
I don't think there are any brothels left, however.
There were a lot of those in the 1880s, too.
The LT100 cyclists seemed to be having fun. Max and Bill
helped keep kids out of harm's way along the parade route as the
cyclists rode circles around Ken's truck, went up the back end of the
float and down out the other side:
After we got done we folded up the banner and went our merry way:
While Don and Marge chatted with friends in front of the town's
Jim and I went into a couple sporting goods stores,
watched the bands and other organizations in the parade,
listened to Scottish bagpipers play and dancers dance after the
watched people watching other people,
browsed the craft fair,
Face painting - come see how pretty she looks!
Arts & crafts, an American flag, and Mt. Massive = quintessential
got some good eats for lunch,
ogled a HUGE Ford F-650 (didn't know they came that big!!),
Kinda dwarfs the regular-sized pickup behind it!
and drove back to our campsite at Jack's. Mike Hickman was already
out selling rodeo tickets at the end of "our" road and gave us an
imaginary hassle about trying to get into the rodeo for free:
After lunch Jim decided to wander next door to see if Mike needed any
help with traffic control and ticket selling. He ended up
volunteering for over two hours as 500-600 people streamed through
the entrance road into the rodeo grounds. He decided I should go see the
rodeo on Sunday, since I can't remember if I've ever been to one (the
closest would be county and state fairs in Ohio when I was a kid).
Sure. I'm game. Tune in tomorrow for the Boom Days rodeo, costume
contests, mining events, and my fave, the burro races.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil