Freedom Rings From the Mountaintop
Leadville Plans July 4th Weekend
This coming weekend could put some Independence back in summer celebrations as America’s highest city is back with some fun, food, and fireworks to celebrate America’s birthday! The recent damp weather hasn’t doused the patriotic spirit of folks living in Leadville Today. In fact, as of today, there are no fire restrictions in place for Lake County and once tomorrow’s final approval is given, the Leadville skies should see a little extra magic on July 4th.
Here’s what’s on the schedule so far. As always, let LT know if you have something to add at email@example.com. Happy Birthday, America!
A Ticket to Ride: BBQ Railroad
If BBQ and brews mean the 4th of July to you and your group, then just add the third leg – scenic mountain views – for the Leadville trifecta! On Friday, July 2, a special Leadville, Colorado and Southern Railroad trip will depart at 6 p.m. in the afternoon for one of the special BBQ rides offered this season.
The Devils Tail BBQ Special takes riders up, up, up the Arkansas River Valley as the sun begins to set over the two highest peaks in Colorado. All along the ride while soaking in the views, guests will be treated to some award-winning barbeque and brews (or wine) from its expanded spirits offering this year. This ride usually sells out, so to make your reservation, log on to the Leadville railroad website.
The Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad offers a 2.5-hour scenic train ride through some of the best terrains the rocky mountains have to offer. At his point in the season, they offer two trips daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They also have a number of special train rides including the upcoming wildflower rides as well as the BBQ trips. #AllAboard for summertime fun!
Animal Shelter Furry Fundraiser
On Saturday you can help out some furry friends and the folks who take care of them at the annual Leadville/Lake County Animal Shelter Yard Sale. On July 3 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. join the local fundraiser at 428 E 12th Street if you’re on-the-hunt for good treasures. All kinds of items will be for sale with proceeds benefiting the animal shelter. If you have things to donate to the sale, you may do so before the end of the day on July 1, according to manager Caitlin Kuczko. Contact the shelter at (719) 486-8951.
Speaking of pets, did you happen to catch the recent visit from feline blogger thatcat_pluto? This furry adventurer takes all kinds of trips with his family, including 2-year-old adorable twins! Recently the Pluto went kayaking and swimming (!) at Twin Lakes and rode the Leadville train. These posts are sure to make you smile!
A Lead Vegas Saturday Night!
Saturday nights have been revived in downtown Lead Vegas with the return of some live music on the corner of 7th and historic Harrison Avenue. Whether it’s Open Mic or Karaoke, come and hear your favorite Leadville Idol belt out the tunes at the legendary Manhattan Bar. Yep, the neon light is still glowing and the crowds are growing as Jasmin-the-Bartender serves up the drinks during this regular Saturday night event, with the programs rotate every other week. This Saturday, July 3 it’s Karoke! Oh boy!
Firecracker 5k Race
On Sunday, July 4th, America’s highest city will be celebrating Independence Day back in its usual patriotic style. The day kicks off at 8:30 a.m. with the Firecracker 5K. This fun community event has folks dressed in their most patriotic attire as racers walk or run the 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) course which does a small loop through town, ending where it begins at the Lake County courthouse. Cost is $25. Participants can pre-register online or on race day registration on the courthouse lawn from 7 – 8 a.m. Race start is 8:30 a.m.
The race series benefits the Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall of Fame and specifically for the Firecracker 5K with proceeds benefiting youth athletics and recreation such as the Children’s Fishing Day and Leadville Nordic. Governed by a nine-member board, this a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 2002 strives for those who have been outstanding in athletics or have given meritorious service to the athletics and/or recreation within our community. The SHF serves as the official sports Hall of Fame for the City of Leadville, County of Lake, and the Senior High Schools of Climax, Leadville, and Lake County.
Weather reports look good for the July 4th race and holding strong through the morning with sunny skies for Sunday’s July 4th Parade sponsored by the Leadville/Lake County Chamber of Commerce. The parade starts at 10 a.m. This year’s theme: “No sign-up, just line up,” at the corner of W. 9th Street and Harrison starting at 9 a.m. Sunday morning. Three cheers for the first of the Leadville summer parades! After the parade, Harrison Avenue should be alive with blooming flowers, great buys in shops and plenty of tasty food as local restaurants welcome residents and visitors back in grand red, white and blue fashion. Please support Leadville’s Main Street businesses.
It’s a “so far, so good,” message from Lion Carol when it comes to the return of the Fourth of July Fireworks on Sunday at dusk. Sponsored by the Leadville Lions Club, the display is scheduled to get final approval by the Leadville/Lake County Fire Department on Wednesday. The recent rains have to help, it’s fingers crossed! The club shoots them off from Dutch Henry Hill (adjacent to CMC), so the high school football field and vicinity have always been considered good viewing spots. ROAR! There is also a band at Freight on Sunday night.
What’s In a Name: Leadville Fireworks
The formal name of the Fourth of July fireworks show presented by the Leadville Lions Club is the Tony Hren Memorial Fireworks Display. And in a town like Leadville, these kinds of notorieties are relevant and certainly worth learning about. After all, if it weren’t for guys like Tony, many of Leadville’s small-town traditions might go to the wayside.
So who was Tony Hren? For those who knew him or worked with him, the mere mention of his name brings a genuine smile to their face. He was that type of person, kind, and unassuming, mixed with a strong work ethic and giving nature.
Tony Hren was the owner of the Sayer and McKee Drug Store on Harrison for decades during the mid-late 20th century when life rolled a bit slower on the avenue. It was before all the big-box stores that folks now shop at over the hill. It was before digital cameras when you had to have a place to get your film developed. And it was the place where you really could experience that neighborhood feel when getting your prescription filled. Hren ran a solid business, a tight ship, and gave back to his community in countless ways, one of which was as a member of the Leadville Lions Club.
Hren passed away in 1999 at the age of 67, too early some say. But fortunately, as he was putting his affairs in order towards the end of a long battle with illness, Hren made sure that once a year the Leadville sky would be lit up, adding a kaleidoscope of colors to the brilliant, twinkling stars. It is Hren’s legacy – in part – that provides the financial support of the annual Leadville Lions Club 4th of July Fireworks Display, now appropriately named in his honor.
Today, the building that once was home to Hren’s former drug store has been restored after the roof collapsed under heavy snow during the winter of 2014. It is now known as the historic Sayer & McKee Building, which is home to the KW Plaza and the Treeline Kitchen, which by the way, has a great rooftop patio with an incredible view of the Tony Hren Memorial Fireworks Display at dusk. Enjoy every “ooh” and “aah”, compliments of Lion Tony! Happy Independence Day!
Colorado’s Red, White, and Blue
Happy Birthday, America! Yes, this weekend celebrates the country’s 245th birthday. It’s an outright celebration of everything red, white, and blue. And fellow Americans, when it comes to states, Colorado simply couldn’t be more patriotic. Its nickname is the Centennial State, because in the year of America’s 100th Birthday – 1876 – Colorado received its statehood. And of course, there’s the fact that “America The Beautiful” was written by Katherine Bates when she saw Pikes Peak and was inspired to write the verse, “Purple’s mountain’s majesty, above the fruited plain.”
But did you know that Colorado is the only state whose official geological symbols are red, white, and blue?! Yes, when it comes to Colorado’s State Mineral (red- rhodochrosite), State Rock (white – Yule marble), and State Gem (blue- aquamarine) this color trio is an intended tribute to America. And – of course – this patriotic gesture has a Leadville connection!
The color red is represented by Colorado’s Official State Mineral: Rhodochrosite. And it’s here that the local connection weaves into the red, white and blue story. The official bill to designate a state mineral was sponsored in 2002 by State Senator Ken Chlouber and Representative Carl Miller, both from Leadville.
The initial suggestion was presented by a high school Earth Science class, located near Bailey, who became aware that Colorado did not have a state mineral. After some debate, the students decided that rhodochrosite, because of its red color (similar to Colorado, which means “reddish” in Spanish) should be the state mineral. They wrote a letter to Rep. Miller suggesting the designation. And for a couple of country-loving Americans like Miller and Chlouber, working jointly to introduce this legislation was easy! Within three months rhodochrosite was designated the Colorado State Mineral and signed into law by Governor Bill Owens on April 17, 2002.
The white color in the geologically patriotic combination is represented by Yule Marble, Colorado’s State Rock. Again, it was a group of young people – Girl Scout Troop 357 – who prompted State Representative Betty Boyd to introduce the bill. As the state known for the majestic Rocky Mountains, the scout group argued, it seemed odd that the state did not yet have an official state rock. Being surrounded by Yule Marble in the floors and trim of the State Capitol building, it wasn’t too much of a legislative reach to accept the designation.
In addition, the Girl Scouts urged, designating the Yule Marble would complete the official geological symbols to be red, white and blue. Smart young women! Gov. Owens had the honor of completing the star-spangled trifecta when he signed the bill into law in March 2004. Yule Marble has been used in many famous buildings and sculptures, including the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Rounding out the American-themed symbols is the color blue, represented by Aquamarine designated as the state gemstone of Colorado back in 1971.
You’ll need to head a bit south of Lake County, towards the mountain peaks of Mount Antero and Mount White in Chaffee County, to capture the finest quality of these “blue” aquamarines. According to the Colorado Geological Survey website, they are also among the highest in elevation, located at 13,000 to 14,200 feet. The crystals in these cavities range in color from light blue to pale blue and deep aquamarine green, and in size from very small to 6 cm in length.
There you have it! As you celebrate America’s birthday this week, sing out a little song of “Three Cheers for the Red (Rhodochrosite), White (Yule Marble), and Blue (Aquamarine)!” That’s how we’ll be celebrating it in Leadville Today.
Kathy Bedell © Leadville Today. Colorado Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, A Media Company located in Leadville, Colorado which publishes LeadvilleToday.com and SaguacheToday.com. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.