Book Lodging

Fourth of July – Telluride Style

Tuesday • June 30, 2015

The Early Days 

America’s independence was hard fought and as a result we celebrate annually with a birthday party on the 4th of July. Telluride hosts a wonderful old fashioned family affair but it didn’t start out that way.

In early days, the festivities began with a blast of dynamite to wake up the town. A parade down Colorado Avenue came next, followed by the annual highlight, tug-o-war! This was an event folks looked forward to all year. People would form six-man teams and compete against each other while the crowds cheered.  Eventually the competitors and spectators grew more rowdy, perhaps due to the copious amounts of liquor consumed, and violence ensued. The fighting combined with drinking became too much for the town and most of the organized activities were canceled in the early 1970s.

After a year of trying to calm down the masses a small group of locals thought they could put back together Telluride Fourth of July. They held a small parade with no games afterward. To fill that gap of time before the fireworks they replaced games with a ski race up on Tomboy Basin. This got people excited but not too excited and helped return the celebration to more wholesome fun.

Celebration 2015

Our celebration of today has many of the same traditions, but also some new and fun additions. Thankfully there is no dynamite to wake people up, instead people get up on their own to participate in the Rundola. The Rundola is a race that starts at the bottom of the Gondola and ends at the top. Some people take it seriously, while others just hike with their friends and burn some calories before eating too much at the various parties they will be attending.

There is, of course, still a parade in the morning that is put together by a committee and has a huge variety of floats. The sidewalks are always packed with eager watchers who probably got their lawn chairs in place hours before the parade was scheduled to start. (Not as competitive as the Bluegrass tarp run but getting close.)  To start off the parade, there is a small airshow to get the crowd excited for the day. Most years parade goers are treated to a WWII plane fly by. When there isn't a government sequester, fighter jets from Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs also cruise up and down the valley to dramatic effect. On June 29th there was a spotting of US Airforce Thunderbirds practicing formations. Unfortunately however, we will not be having them fly over this weekend, but instead two F16s from the Colorado National Guard will perform at 11am! Still a great treat to see, so mark your calenders! 

Fireman's BBQ

Right after the last float passes people head over to Town Park to participate in the Fire Department’s barbeque. The whole town is invited, which is great, but can cause quite the long line. Don’t fret though, the meal is worth the wait.  After the food is eaten, there is yard games for the whole family.

No place like Telluride for fireworks

Last, but certainly not least, are the fireworks. They are put on by the Fire Department in Town Park. You can see them from anywhere in town, but the best viewing is definitely under a blanket on the town park field. The show is absolutely amazing; canopies of color explode across the sky while sparklers blink on and off as they drip down like weeping willow before they burn out. Definitely the best display I have ever seen, anywhere. 

Telluride is definitely one of the best places to celebrate our country's Independence; it has the traditional aspects with its own twist that makes everyone smile. 


o   Parade staging – 10:00

o   Honor Guard Ceremony: Courthouse steps- 10:40

o   Parade Starts: Colorado Avenue- 11:00

o   Firemen’s Barbeque-Town Park: 11:30-4

o   Parade Awards Presentation: Town Park- 1:30-2

o   Kids games: Town Park- 2:00

o   Fireworks: Town Park- Dark