Fireworks, Firsts and Flags
First Female Win @ Firecracker 5k
It was a history-making weekend as America’s highest city sprang back to life to celebrate the country’s birthday. But for one young woman, there was some extra sparkle as Laura Krasa, 21 of Urbana, IL became the first woman to win the Firecracker 5k held Sunday, July 4th. So, open up the record books and put down some fresh ink for a strong 17:40 win time along with the first tally in the “W” column. That’s awesome, Laura, Congratulations!
Sunday’s race saw 151 racers laced up to the start line, but only one Leadvillite would even see the top ten. In fact, two of the three top spots were taken by flatlanders, indicating altitude did not play such a big factor in this shorter-distance race at 10,200 feet. Then again, the winner’s podium was dominated by racers in their 20s, so maybe altitude doesn’t matter as much as age when it comes to numbers.
For fans who closely follow the Track and Field sport, the name Laura Krasa is not unfamiliar. Back in her home state of Illinois, she has gained notoriety by winning 5ks. During her collegiate career, the Firecracker 5k’s first female champion captured the National Association of Christian Athletes‘ national title as a freshman finishing the season with the area’s top 3-mile time. And pre-pandemic in 2019 Krasa already two Ws at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon 5k in 2019. No doubt Krasa can run and at 21 years of age, Leadville racing fans should get used to seeing this name at the top of the leader board.
Rounding out the winner’s podium for the 2021 Firecracker 5k, Zachary Russell, 27 of Keystone, CO was second at 17:49 and Jacob Martinez, 20 of Palmerton, PA took third with 18:41 time. The Firecracker 5k is put on as a fundraiser for the Leadville/Lake County Sports Hall of Fame; this year’s event also benefited the Children’s Fishing Day and Cloud City Mountain Sports. For full race results: CLICK.
On Saturday, the Leadville/Lake County Animal Shelter held their annual fundraiser and initial reports were good. Manager Caitlin Kuczko had a full volunteer crew to assist with the Yard Sale and the buying crowds stayed strong through the morning.
Kuczko also reported that Lake County has NOT seen any pandemic pet returns, a trend in other cities as cats and dogs are being returned to shelters as life gets “back to normal.” In fact, there was only one dog up for adoption on Saturday; of course, that changes so always check out their adoption page for the latest pets in need of a forever home. For cat lovers, there is a ready-to-go litter of kittens that have been socialized and looking for a new home. Kuczko said this spring brought a flurry of feral cat litters because Leadville saw such a mild winter, allowing the population to grow.
Did you know, there is a non-profit arm to the animal shelter which allows the facility to raise funds to go directly to their programs instead of the general city or county fund. Planned Pethood of Leadville was started in 1991 by Hela Carpenter to help reduce the population of unwanted, homeless animals in Leadville, Colorado. In 1998, the small volunteer group of pet spay/neuter advocates gained its formal non-profit status under Planned Pethood Assistance, Inc. Since then they have provided procedures for almost 5,000 animals over the past 20 years!
Carpenter retired in 2019 and a new board continues the tradition, adding new programs. Planned Pethood of Leadville offers financial assistance to those whose pets are in need of other medical procedures, but may not be able to afford to pay for such care. So, if you looking to adopt or perhaps volunteer for any number of great programs the animal shelter has in place, connect with them HERE.
Sunday’s Fourth of July Parade sponsored by the Leadville/Lake County Chamber of Commerce saw the biggest Harrison Avenue crowds since pre-pandemic events as hundreds lined the sidewalks for a good old-fashioned, small-town parade. And the marchers did not disappoint. From the Leadville Lions Club to the live fish in the sizeable mobile aquarium from the Leadville Fish Hatchery to the freedom-of-speech topic of 2021: Pb Swims (the pool!), all the entrants were immersed in a sea of red, white & blue.
While there was no official parade winner, one entry that did see a swell of support was the Pb Swims & Recreates effort. If you haven’t heard by now, there’s been another behind-the-scenes shift in governmental funding – this time concerning money for repairs and maintenance to the Lake County Swimming Pool. An organized group of grassroots advocates dedicated to making sure that local leaders don’t pull the plug for good on the local aquatic center which has been closed since last December 2020 has been formed under the name Pb Swims & Recreates.
Spearheaded by Jane Harelson, better known as the hotdog lady, this grassroots group is quickly gaining support, rippling far behind the ladies aquatic exercise group, resonating with younger families who believe not only is it important for their children to learn how to swim, but that an aquatics center adds great benefit to any recreation plan – especially during those long Leadville winters. Harelson provides a brief background:
“The county and the school district have stated they do not want to own or maintain the pool,” Harelson was explaining to a hotdog cart customer whose purchase would go directly toward the grassroots efforts from July 4th hotdog sales. The group has been incredibly transparent in their fundraising efforts as reported to Leadville Today.
In an undated notice posted on the county website, the Lake County Recreation Department stated (sic): “Built in 1973 and partially renovated in 2004, the facility has reached end of life. Over the past nine years there have been a series of maintenance issues that have resulted in total expenses of $280,684.00, in addition to average annual operating expenses of $180,000.00.” The most recent water leak which sprang up last fall led to an everybody-out-of-the-pool determination with no real solution in sight.
The notice from Lake County which was never formally distributed to media outlets concluded: “In addition to replacement of the liner, other facility upgrades are needed to address ADA compliance, updated CDPHE and Model Aquatic Health Code regulations, replace end of life equipment, and bring the aged facility up to modern day standards. On the conservative end these costs are estimated at $2.5 million, but should the community desire a new, modern facility costs are estimated at between $10-13 million.”
In the end, the notice explained: “While a timeline has not yet been developed, work to determine the full Master Plan scope will begin within the next month. A new Master Plan should be in place no later than 2022. ” To date, no notice of a new Master Plan has been distributed to media outlets.
The grassroots Pb Swims group pushed back with their own community survey which was distributed during the July 4th downtown activities. The group reported a total of 100 people took the time to fill one out, including 25 youth surveys. Their plan is to make sure that the community is informed about possibly losing the pool which has been closed since last December 2020 due to a leak. Their message will be rolled out electronically this month, allowing others to express their opinions online as well. Leadville Today will share that information when it is available. Although it’s worth noting that Harelson stated both the county and school district have refused requests from the grassroots group to distribute their survey on their publicly funded online platforms.
These recent decisions have created a come-on-out-into-the-deep-end approach towards Lake County Recreation managers and county leaders who seem to have a bit of swimmer’s ear when it comes to listening to community wants and concerns, choosing instead to put the pool funds towards another community master plan. However, it was clear on the day when America was celebrating her freedoms, the Pb Swims message resonated with many. Based on the chatter surrounding the community survey table, locals seemed to be fired up any number of recent decisions as residents emerge from a somewhat cloistered pandemic reality only to understand exactly what’s been going on in the Zoom meeting backgrounds at city hall and the courthouse. The Pb Swims & Recreates grassroots effort could be one of many flip-turns in Leadville Today. Stay tuned!
July 4th Parade in Leadville 2021
After the parade, the shops and restaurants stayed busy as old friends caught up on the street corner and visitors enjoyed what turned out to be a true Chamber-of-Commerce day for America’s highest city.
Even a quick stop by the House of the Living God Cosmos saw a fresh stock of merchandise for the summer season. “It’s by donation,” Leadville’s favorite guru made it clear as he held up a fresh-off-the-press t-shirt which read: From the Sacred Top USA Leadville is the source of virtuous divine blessings on you!! As you can imagine, this beauty is an in-person purchase, no Ecommerce options. And cash only, please as Cosmos does not presently have a Venmo account set up . . .yet.
Keep an eye out for this legend sitting on the front porch of his landmark house, situated between the firehouse and city hall. For those unfamiliar, read the story about the Day Cosmos Came to Leadville:8/8/88.
As the sun faded behind Mts. Elbert and Massive, dusk set the stage for the final scene: The Tony Hren Memorial Fireworks Display put on by the Leadville Lions Club. This boom-boom show is not an easy feat, but with the dedication of special members like Lion George and Lion Bob, this comeback year was a welcome sight for all.
“Thank you. You made my kids’ year!” wrote one parent on a local social media platform. Leadville’s Sunday display turned out to be one of the only ones in the area with both Summit and Eagle Counties canceling fireworks this year.
However, it’s worth noting that these beloved traditions need continual community support in the form of funds and volunteers. Lion Carol explains how the fireworks fund works: “The donation requests are always for the following year. We have to order and pay for them by September for the following year. The fireworks that we will receive today were paid for September 2019 but fireworks were not used…or received…for the 2020 show. So, we did not work on donations last year or this spring.”
The bottom line? The Leadville Lions Club had only $3,000 in their dedicated fireworks account going into the holiday weekend. They need “around $10,000 by this September 2021 in order to prepay for next year’s fireworks,” explained Lion Carol. Any donations will be greatly appreciated. If you enjoyed them this year then please consider sending a check to PO Box 926, Leadville, CO 80461 or for additional questions contact Lion Carol at email@example.com. ROAR! Thank you Leadville Lions Club.