Tomorrow marks the 237th anniversary of our nation’s declaration of independence. This time of year our little county of about 27,000 folks swells to nearly double its size as people from all over the world join us for this birthday celebration. Welcome.
It’s hard to believe some 300 of you will wake up early enough to take on the 6.2 mile run that begins with a climb up a trail aptly named Jack’s Cruel Joke. Even though it looks like there are a couple of hundred switchbacks at the start, take heart, it’s really closer to 13. You’ll get your workout in and be back in time to catch the 750 bikers who tackle the Firecracker 50, an impressive opening to the Breckenridge parade. The fastest trekker will complete the course in about three and half hours; others make a full day of it.
The several hundred kids on decorated bikes who lead off the Frisco Main Street parade long ago laid claim to my heartstrings, especially those 2-year-olds with red, white and blue training wheels. Someday maybe they’ll take their place at the start of the race just down the road. If all this talk of exercise makes you hungry, at last count more than 100,000 pieces of candy will fly through the air to expectant paradegoers. OK, I just made that number up, so if anyone is counting (other than my daughters) please let me know the official results.
While there’s never a shortage of summer sounds in the county, music from the National Repertory Orchestra is a perennial Fourth favorite. The orchestra that has called Summit County its home for the last 23 years will visit two local venues, where more than 80 young musicians from 23 states and eight countries will once again flawlessly perform patriotic and popular tunes. If a more contemporary sound is what you seek you should not be disappointed in the offering; a quick count reveals nearly 20 concerts in various locales.
For those who just want a few moments of solitude, away from all the numbers, you can enjoy the approximately 300,000 acres of public lands (nearly 80 percent of the county) and the trails that traverse the White River National Forest and the Eagle’s Nest Wilderness area. Other travelers may join you on the road, however, to marvel at the local wildflowers (too many to count) that have graciously decided to peak for all the holiday hoopla. Seafaring types will relish the nearly 3,233 acres covered by the Dillon Reservoir, with over 26 miles of shoreline and views guaranteed from every vista.
Some numbers, however, remain constant, like the number of checkout lines at City Market. Even when all 11 are fully manned, with six more where you can help yourself, this time of year it never seems to be enough. Any holiday revelry we can muster for the countless folks who are working harder than ever this weekend to get us in and out of the all the places we need to be will no doubt be much appreciated.
This foray into numbers and statistics for a gal who generally is infatuated with words was prompted by the lyrics of different Fourth of July staple, the Lee Greenwood song “God Bless the USA” that will frequent the airwaves the next few days. Greenwood captures the sentiment many of us share when we remember what the holiday means: “I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free / And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”
These words caused me to look up some sobering statistics. Since our nation’s inception, over 1.3 million Americans have given their lives to make sure we can run, bike, hike and parade in the shadow of these glorious mountains, while those injured and missing top 1.6 million. Recently, I also learned there is a continuing tragic loss of servicemen and -women who daily give up on life, committing suicide at a staggering rate of nearly 22 per day. These statistics are not intended to dampen the enthusiasm that should characterize tomorrow’s festivities. Instead, it’s an overwhelming reminder of all the people who made the dream of “one nation, under God” a reality, and of the sacrifice that allows us live with liberty and justice for all.
Cindy Bargell is an attorney and mom who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two daughters. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org