Sometimes the Band Played ’till the 5th of July

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Crested Butte’s traditional 4th of July started at daybreak with dynamite blasts on Chocolate Hill. “One year they broke windows in some of the houses.” says Willard Ruggera. “The guy that did it must of been drunk or something.”

The parade was led by the volunteer fire department with two hose carts and a ladder cart…all pulled by hand. The local lodges were all represented and the towns two marching bands, the town band and the high school band, had to alternate years since they contained so many common members. There were always the odd entries of families and ranchers from around the county. The big parade has always been held in Crested Butte.

Street games were standard with sack races, single and double jack contests and a tug of War, which was held across Coal Creek at the present location of Totem Pole Park. Gunnison brought a team to challenge Crested Butte for the main event. Pie eating was a local favorite…”They had all kinds of pies like blueberry, the kind that would be the messiest”. Running races were held in all age groups up to 65 years of age. The nail driving contest was limited women’s entries only.

And in the evening the patriots would gather at the bandstand, located at 3rd and Elk Where the bakery is now, for an evening of the polka as well as the latest tunes. “We played all the popular songs that were on the radio show “Hit Parade”. “Stardust”, “September’s Song” and “Stars Fall On Alabama” were a few of them. We’d try to keep up with all the popular songs. Sometimes they’d take up a collection and we’d play ’till 4 o’clock in the morning.”

At dark the local firefighters put on a small fireworks display. They didn’t have much money…folks generally went to Gunnison for the big show.

Source: Willard Ruggera

Rob Quint


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