The 28th annual Four Corners Board of Realtors Parade of Lights came on a warm Saturday night with a full moon overhead.
Large crowds started to line Main Street an hour before the parade began at 6 p.m., and the street stayed busy after the hourlong event was done. More than 70 local businesses and nonprofits entered floats in the parade, about 20 more than in 2016. Many of them, including grand marshal Osprey Packs, had never participated before.
Joel Rouse, of Osprey Packs, said the company decided to join the parade just two weeks in advance.
“With the new building in town and everything, right in the middle of town, we’re trying to do more ... community involvement,” he said.
Several employees, including the company’s owners and an Osprey mascot, walked alongside the float wearing Osprey backpacks and handing out coupons for their products.
Some of the parade’s most elaborate floats belonged to longtime participants, like Stormy’s ATC Gymnastics, which featured several students in snowman costumes throwing foam snowballs at the crowd, and the Montezuma County Future Farmers of America, which had a float with a miniature cabin and hill with a moving sled. Stormy’s won second place in 2016 for the “Commercial” category, and the FFA won first place in the “Other” category.
The parade’s theme was “A Backcountry Christmas,” so cabins and campfires were popular features on the floats.
Volunteer Michelle Morris said she believed the larger turnout this year was partly due to the warm weather. The temperature was about 37 degrees at the end of the parade, according to the National Weather Service. Before the parade, Morris said she expected a huge turnout.
“With as warm as it is, I think there’s going to be a lot,” she said. “I’m not even wearing a coat.”
In addition to the many businesses that brought floats to the parade, several nonprofits used it as an opportunity to raise awareness of their causes. Cheri Valle, of For Pets’ Sake Humane Society, rode her wheelchair alongside a vintage car, a few volunteers dressed in animal costumes and one actual dog named Peach, who was dressed in Christmas lights. It was the group’s first year in the parade.
“We’ve been in this community for 34 years, a long time, but there are still people that aren’t aware that they can call us and ask for help,” Valle said. “We’re always trying to get our name out there.”
Another newcomer to the parade was the Dolores Playground Group, which supports the Ron Kotarski Memorial Playground in Joe Rowell Park. Its float featured real pine trees and a large model of the playground.
Judges for this year’s parade included Lily Jameson-Cash of KSJD Radio, Ryan Robison of the Sunflower Theatre and volunteer Swarvoski Little.
Each of the parade winners received cash prizes from the Four Corners Board of Realtors.
The winnersIn the nonprofit category, Battle Rock Charter School won first place, the Girl Scouts Mesa Verde Service Unit won second, and the Dolores playground group won third.In the commercial category, Stormy’s ATC Gymnastics, LLP, won first place, followed by Shooter’s World in second and Denise Dennison Farmers Insurance in third. In the open class, miniature horse breeder Miniz ’N’ More won first place, followed by Southwest Colorado Community College Welding Department and both Southwest Open School and the Cortez FFA in a tie for third place.