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A First-Class Fourth
Rich Barry

A First-Class Fourth

With patriotism at a fever pitch, break out your red, white and blue, because it's America's 225th birthday this July 4th -- and it's time to celebrate.

So if you're looking for a cool way to celebrate, head for the hills to Breckenridge's July 4th Festival. At 9,600 feet, the town's average summer daytime temperature is a pleasant 70 degrees. Originally settled in 1859 as a gold- and silver-mining town, Breckenridge is going all-American for the long weekend -- decorating the lampposts with bunting and hanging flags proudly.

Main Street shuts down for the day as the Red, White & Blue Volunteer Fire Department hosts a barbecue, along with games such as a water-balloon fight, watermelon-seed-spitting contest, bean-bag toss and a frying-pan toss.


Breckenridge's July 4th Festival

Riverwalk Center, Main Street and Adams

Parade on Main Street, 11 a.m.
2 p.m., Al DiMeola's World Sinfonia concert
8:30 p.m., National Repertory Orchestra Patriotic Pops concert

"It's a real hometown event," says Carol Craig, events coordinator for the Town of Breckenridge. "The day is definitely a highlight of our summer season." Bikers who participate in the "Firecracker 50" mountain-bike race will lead the annual parade down Main Street before heading up the peaks for a grueling ride.

Those who want some music can stroll on over to the Riverwalk Center, a spectacular setting nestled between Main Street and the mountains. Al DiMeola's World Sinfonia will play at 2 p.m., featuring Al DiMeola's distinctive jazz-fusion and acoustic-Latin sound. The National Repertory Orchestra, Breckenridge's resident orchestra for the summer, takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. for the Patriotic Pops concert of American classics.

At the north end of Main Street, the annual juried Fine Arts Show runs all weekend, showcasing more than 135 artists selling everything from paintings and sculpture to pottery and woodworking.

"This is a nationally ranked show," says Mark Beling, who produces the fair. "For a little town like Breckenridge, it's quite a feat." Downtown Breckenridge still boasts Victorian homes, only these days they're painted funky pastel colors.

But the big question of the summer is whether fireworks will be allowed during the nasty drought. Breckenridge's fireworks extravaganza is scheduled to blast off at 9:45 p.m., but organizers are planning to wait until the last possible minute before making a final "go/no go" decision.

"Obviously, everyone wants to see fireworks on July 4th, but hopefully people will be pretty understanding if we can't do it," says Craig. "We have to be extra careful this year; we let them go right from the center of town, and there are lots of buildings and lots of trees." So cross your fingers, and practice singing "And the rockets' red glare/the bombs bursting in air...."


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