Rotary withdraws from involvement in 4th of July Parade

This article has been updated to include information from Town Manager Andrea Phillips and the Pagosa Springs Town Council.

By Randi Pierce
Staff Writer

The Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs announced Thursday afternoon that it is withdrawing its involvement in the annual 4th of July Parade.

Rotary has been involved with the parade for over 30 years.

“After much consternation and consideration, the Rotary Board has decided to withdraw involvement, this year, in the 4th of July Parade,” an email statement from Parade Director JoAnn Laird to local public officials states.

But that doesn’t mean the parade is off the schedule for this summer, with Town Manager Andrea Phillips indicating that the Town of Pagosa Springs is looking into the logistics of taking over liability and hiring for traffic and crowd control, and the Pagosa Springs Town Council briefly discussing the matter at a Thursday evening work session.

The parade is set to be on the council’s Tuesday evening agenda, with that meeting slated to begin at 5 p.m. at Town Hall.

Rotary’s statement notes that, while the club wanted to continue the event, liability, safety and manpower have become issues.

“This decision was not made cavalierly, as the club wanted to continue this community service project that is not only the largest attended annual event in Archuleta County but a project that has been near and dear our heart for over thirty years,” the statement reads.

“We so appreciate everything that Rotary has done through the years,” Phillips said.

The statement describes that the parade has grown to 85-100 entries, with crowds and traffic increasing to a point that an outside firm is needed to barricade sidewalks and manage the crowds.

Phillips noted, “We’re kind of a victim of our own success,” with holding the parade on U.S. 160 complicating matters.

“The parade has grown to the point that it cannot be treated as a small town parade any longer,” the statement reads. “We rival any bigger city on the western slope. Durango, as an example, has had barricades for their parade and Snow Down for years.”

Phillips explained the town is looking into outsourcing traffic and crowd control, as well as possibly changing the route in future years to move it off the highway.

The statement commends Pagosa Springs Police Chief Bill Rockensock’s work on the parade each year before delving into the club’s liability issues.

The statement concludes by stating that if liability issues are relieved, the Rotarians will help with the parade in the future.

“Rotary knows there is no question that everyone wants the parade to continue and the financial and personal harm this can do to the community,” it reads. “We just can’t be liable for any risk the day of the parade. This has been discussed for months. If released of liability, the club would be thrilled to volunteer all the manpower it takes leading up to the parade five weeks before-hand, until the thank you to the sponsors, winners, volunteers and public are announced the week following the parade. We want this event to continue and are happy to join forces with you next year. Just turn us loose, without liability or day-of manpower for traffic and crowd control.”

For more information, see next week’s issue of The SUN.

This story was posted on May 30, 2019.