Durango showed up to America’s birthday Thursday.
Thousands of people lined Main Avenue on Independence Day for the Stars & Stripes Parade, which kicked off at 6 p.m. and was led by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Celebrations for the Fourth of July started early.
The All-American Gourmet Breakfast & Libations began at 7:30 a.m. in Rotary Park. By the time the event ended at 11:30 a.m., Gene Fischer with the Rotary Club of Durango estimated that about 1,000 breakfasts were served.
“We had our best year ever,” he said. “For about three hours, we were the busiest restaurant in Durango.”
Fischer said the annual breakfast is the largest fundraiser for the Rotary Club. He said many people who run the Freedom 5K end up at Rotary Park looking for a good meal after the workout.
But more than anything, it’s a fitting start to the Fourth of July.
“It’s a really good way to start the day,” he said. “That’s why we do it.”
After festivities ended at Rotary Park, the party moved to Buckley Park, where live music and food was aplenty.
Jon Sigillito, an event organizer, said proceeds from food and beer sales at the Buckley Park celebration go directly to Building Homes for Heroes, a charity that offers mortgage-free homes to severely wounded veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since 2006, the nonprofit has helped veterans secure 170 homes, two of which were located in Colorado, he said.
Food sold in Buckley Park was donated by the Durango Elks Lodge, and kegs of beer were donated by Ska Brewing Co. and Steamworks Brewing Co.
By the end of the party around 4:30 p.m., Sigillito said 200 hot dogs and 240 burgers were sold, and the four kegs were almost tapped.
Fourth of July parade starts in Durango pic.twitter.com/Gqd72AfOUL— Jonathan Romeo (@JonathanDHerald) July 5, 2019
The annual parade in downtown Durango featured about 24 entries marching down Main Avenue, said Greg Childress, an event organizer who is also with Durango Fire Protection District.
While several entries were military and veteran focused, anyone in the community is welcome to join the parade, he said.
Dean Dooley said his group, “Tin Lizzies,” is a part of the San Juan Basin Shrine Club, which raises money for children’s hospitals. Specifically, the group helps fund people’s traveling costs to and from hospitals.
His group of about 10 rode go-carts remodeled to resemble Model T’s down Main Avenue. They hit parades in Durango, Bayfield and Pagosa Springs on Thursday.
Geoff Overington, a broker with Keller Williams, and his colleagues borrowed high-wheel bicycles, also known as penny-farthings, from the city of Durango as their mode of transportation in the parade. He said the company has been doing the ride for about eight years.
“It’s a little hard to get on and off,” Overington said of the bike. “But it’s easy to ride.”
Durango Police Sgt. Will Sweetwood said Thursday afternoon it had been a relatively quiet Fourth of July.
“We haven’t had anything major,” he said. “People are behaving themselves for the most part.”
But, he said as the evening wears on, activity is expected to heat up.
“I’m sure that will change after the fireworks,” he said. “That usually happens.”
Thursday is an overlap day for Durango Police, Sweetwood said, which means there are officers on shifts from both ends of the week. As a result, there would be more officers for patrols Thursday night.
“We’ll have a lot more people for patrols,” he said.
Karola Hanks, fire marshal for Durango Fire Protection District, said Thursday’s hot and dry temperatures raised the risk of fire danger. The monsoon has yet to arrive this summer, which increases the chance for wildfires to break out.
“But we’re still hoping people are going to be safe and come watch the fireworks, instead of shooting their own,” she said.
Durango’s fireworks show was scheduled to start around 9:15 p.m. The show is the first since 2016. Shows were canceled in 2017 and 2018 because of fire danger.