A Grand Parade requires grand planning

A look at the logic behind Western Welcome Week’s most high-profile event

David Gilbert
dgilbert@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/26/21

By the time Western Welcome Week’s Grand Parade is finished rolling down Main Street, it’s about time to start planning for next year. “We work hard all year putting everything together for …

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A Grand Parade requires grand planning

A look at the logic behind Western Welcome Week’s most high-profile event

Posted

By the time Western Welcome Week’s Grand Parade is finished rolling down Main Street, it’s about time to start planning for next year.

“We work hard all year putting everything together for Western Welcome Week, but I just love seeing that parade come together,” said Cathy Weaver, who co-chairs the festival’s parade committee.

Upward of 120 different groups and floats in about two dozen categories will cruise through Downtown Littleton on Aug. 21 starting at 10 a.m., and Weaver said there’s a certain logic to the order.

“There’s etiquette to be followed in parade planning,” she said.

First goes the Littleton Police Honor Guard, followed by veterans’ groups like the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. After that comes Littleton City Council.

Next go groups with horses and large animals, so they can get out of the heat quicker. The rest of the parade alternates between floats, vehicles, marching bands and other groups. Entries with music are spaced out to make sure the tunes don’t bleed into one another.

The whole thing shouldn’t take longer than an hour and a half, Weaver said, or people start to get bored.

Participants have some ground rules: No throwing candy, which is forbidden by the parade’s insurers — a safety measure to prevent kids scuttling for a Tootsie Roll from running in front of a vehicle or animal. Participants aren’t allowed to hop on and off floats or vehicles, and they are asked not to stop to do performances, lest they break up the flow of the parade and cause gaps.

Some of the biggest cheers are for the pooper scooper crews who clean up behind animals, Weaver said — a duty previously handled by Sertoma Club members, but now to be handled by Scout troops.

The parade is an intergenerational tradition, Weaver said.

“There’s so much history,” she said. “People who marched in it or watched it as kids bring their kids.”

That includes Weaver herself — she has pictures of her now-grown children goofing around in a Western Welcome Week golf cart when they were about kindergarten age, and a photo of her father-in-law dressed up like Abe Lincoln at a parade in the 1970s.

The parade was canceled last year for the first time in the festival’s 93-year history, which Weaver called “devastating.”

“My heart ached for all the kids, the football teams, the bands — everyone who missed out,” she said. “It was hard, but we’re back, and we’re looking at a great parade.”

The Grand Parade starts at Gallup Street and Littleton Boulevard. A full route map and more information can be found at WesternWelcomeWeek.org.

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