4th of July celebration returns to Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

4th of July celebration returns to Glenwood

For the first time in nearly six years, Glenwood Springs hosted its Fourth of July celebration at Two Rivers Park along the Colorado River.

Family, friends, locals and visitors trickled into the park to celebrate America’s independence as a community on Monday.

Local groups such as The Missing Link Band and Symphony in the Valley performed on the park stage to spectators spread out on the lawn in chairs and beach towels, and the sounds provided an entertaining backdrop to games set up nearby.

The Missing Link Band, from Glenwood, went on stage around 6 p.m. and serenaded the spectators in attendance with all AM gold music from Tina Turner, the Bangles, Stevie Wonder and the Doobie Brothers along with a mix from other genres.

“We played a little bit of everything for everyone,” said The Missing Link Band lead singer Kimberly Kwiatkowski of Glenwood Springs. “We were really excited to get the chance to play in front of a lot of people, especially at this Fourth of July celebration.”

Kwiatkowski, who is a lifeguard at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, said the band picked up the gig thanks to Parks & Recreation Director Tom Barnes, who asked the band to play at the celebration.

The band played in front of its largest crowd ever, which was a factor in some of the nerves that she and the band had before going on stage, but the performance was fun and entertaining as the diverse crowd of young and old really got into the performance.

Asked what she thought of the celebration returning to Glenwood, Kwiatkowski was ecstatic about the event and all that was available.

“I’m really excited to have this celebration back,” she said. “It’s nice to have something local and not just in Rifle or in Aspen. To have it back here is special. There’s so much available to do for kids and families from the face-painting to the pie- and watermelon-eating contests, to the bounce houses for the kids to play in. It’s a great family atmosphere, and that’s really what it should be all about.”

Children of all ages competed in the strawberry pie- or watermelon-eating contests, while all ages competed in the tug-of-war and three-legged race competitions. Along with the games against the back fence of the baseball field, there were two bounce houses set up near the stage that allowed kids to bounce off some energy before flying through the obstacle course and sliding down to the lawn below.

Inside the baseball field itself, kids played some pickup football and ultimate Frisbee, while a large group of friends put together a volleyball court and played games throughout the day. There was even a fly-fishing instructional stand for those interested in learning the art of fly-fishing at the park.

Along with the bounce house and games for kids, children were also able to get their faces painted during the festivities. Although it was intended more for children to get stars, stripes and other child-like things painted on their faces to celebrate the day, one shirtless college-aged man had the word “‘Murica” painted on his back.

Happy Independence Day indeed.

As the shrieks and laughter of children and soothing music filled the air, adults were able to play corn hole along the river while grabbing food and drinks such as gyros, Chicago hot dogs and other barbecue foods thanks to the Lions Club and other local vendors. The sweet smell of barbecue and traditional summer foods wafted through the air, providing a great addition to the park’s atmosphere.

Adding to the impressive celebration was the large gathering of kayakers and rafters near the point of the park, just below the bridge. Many just gathered around and hung out, though some did land their crafts and join the festivities at the park.

One little girl named Macey, a 12-year-old and from Glenwood, said she really enjoyed getting the chance to spend the day on the water with her family before coming into the park to enjoy the national holiday with friends on the bouncy houses.

“Today was fun because I got to go rafting with my family and then come here to bounce on the bouncy house with my friends,” Macey said. Her friend Avy, an 11-year-old from Glenwood, added that she really enjoyed getting the chance to come to the park this year, considering they couldn’t do that for the last few years.

Kathryn Trauger, a City Council member who pushed for Glenwood to revive its July 4 celebration, was delighted with the town’s reaction.

“It’s pretty cool to see so many people in the park. I’m happiest about there being so many families,” she said, surveying clusters of children with Hula Hoops and blankets spread through the grass as Symphony in the Valley began playing.

Although there were lots of activities available for families throughout the park, the biggest attraction was the fireworks display that kicked off around 9:15 p.m., as the fireworks were shot off from behind the stage, drawing “oohs” and “ahhs” from those in attendance.

“I’m happy there’s fireworks this year,” Clara Miller of Glenwood Springs said prior to the display at night. “I was upset that they hadn’t happened the last four years. It’s exciting that Glenwood is doing something for the holiday again; I’m really happy [about it]. It’s disappointing when you come home and they’re not doing anything, especially for our Independence Day.”

Fortunately for Miller, that simply wasn’t the case this year, and based on the turnout, the excitement and the success of the event, it could be a safe bet to assume the event returns next year as well.

Katie Hankinson and Post Independent Editor Randy Essex contributed to this story.

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