Story by Ericka Burt (LP class of 2016)
Fourth of July celebrations come in all shapes and sizes, but if you have lived in Colorado, you know Monument ranks supreme. This community shines when it comes to the Fourth of July. Just one example, the Monument Hill Kiwanis plans its mammoth, holiday parade each year, which has been voted, “The biggest and best small-town parade.” It is a well-deserved accolade and a wonderful parade along with a huge street fair, beer garden, live music, and, perhaps best of all, countless American flags. A bald eagle would love it! Advertisements for our small-town parade have been noted as far away as Texas and Minnesota. Monument, Colorado is home to about 9,000 residents, but each year thousands of people travel to the area to enjoy our small-town festivities. This year the Monument Police Department estimates crowds numbering between 26,000-30,000 people attended the parade.
Before the big parade, hundreds of children gather and ride their festive, red, white and blue-decorated bikes and ride-on toys. These kids, parents and pets decked out in red, white, and blue are a wonderful view as they fill the streets. This is a delightful start of our small-town festivities! Although the kids in their own Children’s Parade aren’t part of the main parade, they have a big impact on how we kick off the Fourth of July. It is possibly as simple as infectious joy and celebration, or perhaps it is as philosophical as seeing the hope for our country’s future in a younger generation.
It is definitely a Monumental celebration, and this year was no different! The parade kicked off with Abbie Gray singing the national anthem and a spectacular flyover of F-16s from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, stationed at Buckley AFB. More than 90 groups were in attendance, such as, Integrity Bank and Trust as parade sponsors; veterans groups; The Shriners; Pikes Peak Brewing Company; KOAA News 5; Arlene’s Beans; the Colorado Renaissance Festival; Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo; the new District 38 School Superintendent, Dr. K.C. Somers, with Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools; along with numerous others. Many businesses, non-profits, school groups, and individuals all made an appearance in the parade. This year’s theme was Pioneer Days, and parade entries and street fair booths were decorated with an original idea, all based on the theme and all celebrating our freedom. Uniqueness and creativity were endless.
One particularly impactful entry this year was the rider-less horse. The horse’s saddle was empty except for a pair of boots facing backwards in the stirrups, which created a profound symbol of a fallen soldier. Many people in our nation and around the world remember watching the television coverage of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral procession and the rider-less horse. The backwards boot in each stirrup represented the spirit of a fallen leader looking back at his troops for one last ride. This solemn remembrance was a new tradition for the Monument parade.
Yet, other parade participants added their own voice of patriotism and Fourth of July celebration, including the Y.M.C.A., the U.S. Forest Service Hot Shots, the U.S. Marine Corps, the Air Force Academy, and even the local, first responders who came at the end to wrap up the parade--first responders from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Monument Police Department, Donald Wescott Fire Department, and the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Nothing better could end the “biggest and best small-town parade” than the flashing lights of some of the most important members of our community.
The Monument Fourth of July Parade plays an important role in our town history. When we celebrate our nation’s independence, we celebrate our Colorado town, too. As the area continues to grow, this town of Monument and the Tri-Lakes area will continue to be known for and build upon its traditions, the Monument Fourth of July Parade a favorite one among them.