STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
The Tutu to Brew bike parade and beer festival marked another triumph of Durangoans’ suspect sartorial taste and joyous abandon in whimsy.
In honor of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, more than 300 people convened in Buckley Park on Thursday evening to make the 3½-mile journey to Ska Brewery using the Animas River Trail. The majority wore tutus.
Ron LeBlanc, Durango’s city manager, was in a hot-pink tutu and a matching beauty pageant sash, which declared him “Miss Management.”
The size of the crowd did not surprise LeBlanc.
“Durangoans love to dress up and drink,” he said. “Some towns take pride in fashion. We take pride in being the worst-dressed town in America and demonstrating that to the world.”
If professional cyclists participated in the parade, they concealed their prowess well.
An impossible array of body types – zaftig, svelte, aged, bulbous and preadolescent – mounted their bikes and headed off. From Santa Rita Park, it appeared the Animas River Trail had been descended on by a demented fairy cavalry riding metal steeds.
From the highway, however, the long single-file stream of cyclists resembled a migration of exotic birds with improbably well-endowed rear ends.
Durangoans’ interpretations of the tutu were diverse. Many were mini-skirt length, causing the tulle to appear like a stubbly Mohawk wrapped around the waist.
Others went past the knee, the tulle wilting against the thighs like a petticoat.
Men particularly seized the opportunity to experiment with length and cut. An elderly man opted to wear a cheerleader’s micro-mini with sneakers and bare legs, one of the more abstract approximations of the classic tutu.
The crowd at Ska flaunted many staples of Durango fashion, including tattoos, neon fishnet stockings, socks with sandals, cowboy hats and tan lines of uncertain origin.
But some of the most exciting accessories were totally off-topic, including a raft of feather boas, a Chinese rice picker’s straw hat, a jester’s cap, a blue mermaid wig streaked with tinsel and an inexplicable space helmet with Viking accents.
On arriving at Ska, the first cyclists were met with applause. They victoriously dismounted at the mouth of the parking lot and promptly searched for ID.
In the parking lot, latecomers struggled to find places to stash their bikes, which, like the people riding them, ran the gamut, from dilapidated to striking.
Tori Ossola said she was there because of the “fact that we get another opportunity to dress up again in Durango.”
Connie Robb said this was “not her first dress-up bike ride.”
Ossola’s friend Sarah Sumner said she borrowed her tutu from her daughter.
“Whoever came up with the tutu idea – great idea,” Sumner said. “Its creative, unique and fun.”
Ian McCarthy, a 9-year-old Needham Elementary School student, was wearing a magnificent black and green tutu that matched his black helmet. Asked whether he liked wearing a tutu, he shook his head resignedly while his mother, Paula Mills, laughed.
“He was coerced into it,” said his father, Jim McCarthy.
When asked why he was not wearing a tutu, too, Jim McCarthy said, “Not enough coercion.”
Ben Voymas of Cortez was heretically bedecked in spandex shorts and well-conceived athletic gear.
“We couldn’t find tutus in Cortez,” Voymas said. “We looked for them in Walmart but couldn’t find them anywhere. It’s awful.”
Voymas, who works for Osprey Packs, a sponsor of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, said he was delighted to see so many young men embrace the tutu.
“If you get a little boy to wear a skirt, you can be sure you’re doing something right,” he said.
Holding a Carver beer, Bill Jennings of Los Angeles said he goes on “bike tours in Durango every summer anyway, so this year I just made sure it coincided with the race.”
“How can you pass up a tutu parade?” asked Jennings, incredulous. “We have all kinds of weird stuff in LA, but not this.”
Brigit Hakanson, her cheeks still flushed from the ride, said her black bodice and a red tutu were repurposed from a homemade Halloween costume in which she had dressed as a devil.
“I’m so glad to be here,” she said. “It’s been a (expletive) week.”
Hakanson’s tire gave out at a late point in the parade. She planned to overcome this setback by securing a ride from her boyfriend and imbibing.
“Bicycles and beer – that’s Durango,” she said.
She would be joined by more than 400 people at Ska – who, depending on their thirst, may have less balletic agility on the return journey.