Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
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"Honored as Boom Days grand marshals this year are the members of the Leadville Police
Department . . . A plaque on the front of city hall honors the seven Leadville officers who
were killed in the line of duty. The last year the city lost an officer was 1949 . . . But in
Leadville's early wild years, being a police officer was not a long-term job . . ."

- 57th Annual Boom Days Official Event Guide published by the Herald Democrat



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.

Even 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 of uphill.)

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 circles.

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 the crowd.



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 nicest mural,

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 parade,


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 Leadville

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 Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil