Over the years Americans have developed a number of traditions to celebrate the Fourth of July.
Traditionally, the biggest draws are parades and fireworks displays hosted by communities all across the nation that bring residents and travelers together to ring in the anniversary of our independence from Great Britain.
But before the floats started rolling in the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge, Summit County children began their Fourth of July celebration by participating in one of the nation’s oldest pastimes.
Beginning at 9 a.m. more than 80 children descended on the pond at Meadow Creek Park in Frisco to participate in the annual Fishing Derby.
Jeremy Bryson, town of Frisco summer recreation coordinator, said this was the best fishing derby in his three years of organizing the event, with the kids netting 21 fish total.
Prizes were awarded to participants in three age categories for longest fish caught in inches (see fact box). The overall winner was Austin Wallace, who participated in the 8- to 12-year-old category. Wallace reeled in a rainbow trout measuring 13.75 inches, Bryson said.
“It was a big-in, but all of the kids did well,” he said. “It was a great turnout and I don’t think I’ve ever seen (the kids) catch so many fish before.”
While the Fishing Derby was winding down around 11 a.m., the Main Street parade in Breckenridge was still going strong, despite starting an hour earlier. It was one of the longest Fourth of July parades in Breck’s history, lasting until nearly noon.
“This is quite the parade,” an event announcer said over the loud speaker. “I’ve had relationships that haven’t lasted this long.”
The comment was so perfectly Breckenridge, said Tom and Michelle MacHale who came up from Franktown to take in their first mountain-style Fourth of July celebration.
“It was homegrown,” Tom said about the parade. “You could tell everyone was having a good time.”
But the Breckenridge Main Street parade didn’t just draw locals and in-state visitors.
Brad Aguilar and his family have been coming to Breckenridge the last four years to not only celebrate the Fourth of July, but also to escape the Las Vegas heat. When the family left home Wednesday it was 120 degrees, Aguilar said; in the shade.
“It was great,” the Las Vegas resident said. “We always have a blast, but next year they need to throw out more chocolate and have more music, although the marching band was really cool.”
Virginians Chris and Kristi McConnell also took in Thursday’s parade in Breck. The couple are in the midst of hiking the Colorado Trail.
“I thought it was awesome,” Kristi said. “This parade was more fun than any other parade I’ve ever been to.”
Just as the crowds began to disperse from Breck’s main drag a second parade was gearing up in nearby Frisco.
With 65 floats and 325 kids participating in the bike parade, local residents Mike and Amy Zakely said not only was this one of the best parades, but also one of the most well-attended that they can remember.
“It was really good,” Amy said. “We decided to stay at the front this year so we wouldn’t miss anything.”
Their daughter, Ashlee, 4, and son, Tyler, 2, also said this was the best parade they’ve seen in their young lives. The best part, Ashley said, was all of the candy being handed out by parade participants to the children.
But the Zakely’s all agreed Jagger Koch and Bryce Hendrickson, both 9, stole Thursday’s show. The Silverthorne duo wowed the audience by using a ramp to jump over their fathers, James Hendrickson and Jimmy Koch, on their BMX bicycles.
Jagger and Bryce, who have participated in the Frisco Fourth of July parade each of the last three years, started their daredevil stunts by bunny hopping over 2x4s. A ramp and fake flames came later.
“We started by riding around on our peddle bikes, but we had nothing to jump,” Jagger said. “Then we got the ramp and started jumping over one person, and then two people to make it more extreme for the fans. The most we’ve ever jumped was four people this year.”
How do the Silverthorne daredevils plan to outdo themselves next year?
“The boys are thinking about real flames,” James joked. “I’m sure the fire department would love that. But we have fun with them, that’s what makes having kids such a ball.”