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Snowdown Light Parade dazzles under moonlit sky during Durango’s annual ‘wild winter night dream’

Clear skies, warming temperatures and a gem of a show delights revelers
The Annual Snowdown Light Parade makes its way up Main Avenue on Friday. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Under the halo of an oblong moon sirens sounded and a flag-carrying honor guard passed – then came the Mardi Gras-like’eth marching band covered in glowing lights – Snowdown 2023 party on!

Swinging light savers and disco strobe balls – women with flashing glowing wings and swaying skirts – and kids being kids, waving and looking happy.

Stretched banner with “A Wild Winter Night Dream” written across it. Indeed.

Lightsaber swinging unicorns are a thing at the Annual Snowdown Light Parade. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Light-buzzing bumblebees swarm down Main Avenue. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

A beer van pumping beats. Who doesn’t like beats and beer? The crowd cheered. Dancing bumblebees with flickering colored lights donned upon thine ankles, hands and antennae.

Strutting librarians with white lights draped down book carts. More kids waving from the Snowdown Junior King and Queen float. Snowdown character especial – Lady Godiva and her prancing steed. And plenty of spectators hooting and howling at the Ska Brewing truck in hopes of catching something shot out of a beer gun no doubt’eth.

“Honestly, I think this is one of the best parades in years, and it is really interactive and really fun,” said Linnea Barnett of Durango.

Shakespearean librarians make the book cart rounds. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Flames light the night sky as the crowd cheers “Pull it! Pull it!” (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

More kids dancing in a Shakespearean-era styled castle to the stylings of John Cougar – Mellencamp. A horn-honking snowplow towing all the snowplow accessories sporting a sign saying “Boweth to the Plow.” Followed by some government-official-medical-insignia-marked truck with lights so bright it leaves the crowds seeing spots.

The glowing faces of bundled children on willing shoulders just behind the barriers. Dogs in sweater vests on leashes. Balloon-basket flame throwers arcing blue-red flames into the dark heavens. “Pull it! Pull it!” The crowd yells. And the night lights up.

Men wearing nothing but speedos dancing as fast as possible to keep from turning blue? A showroom floor new jeep peeling out in the middle of the street!

“Now it’s a party!” someone shouts from the crowd – which is two to 10 deep depending on where they are along the parade line. More flame throwers – quickly becoming just as appreciated for the wave of heat given off as the million-lighters light show of flame.

And then, peeling out of the darkness like the guest of honor late for the party, a unicycle. No self-respecting winter parade on recently ice-covered streets is complete without a unicycle.

What the – ? (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
“Free pass,” police say. “This time.” (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Older kids dancing to two turnstiles-and-microphone DJ house beats – on a palm tree adorned float? Mayhem and razzmatazz in the shape of jesters pushing wheelbarrows – voted most likely not to escape the Snowdown Light Parade unscathed by an informal spot poll.

“The wheelbarrow show was hilarious, it was really hilarious,” said Bob Williams of Durango.

The Cat bulldozer bigger than a double-wide trailer dipped in colored Christmas lights and booming Queen's ‘We Will Rock You’ had spectators lifted to a fevered – albeit vintage – pitch.

The crowd greets fire dancers with “oohs” and “awes.” (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

“Price of admission right there,” declared an aging Shakespearean-looking (no costume needed) rocker.

Fire dancers tracing flaming swirls and circles across the night sky.

And on and on it kept on – with Southwest Coloradans getting their Snowdown swerve on.

“Twice as much as last year and half as cold,” declared Micah Susman of Rafter J after the parade passed.

“The torches that usually go on the balloons were really nice,” said his 7-year-old daughter Helene Susman.

“It was great,” said Danelle Osler of Durango. “They put a lot of effort into the floats.”

And then in a final finally – Osler’s daughter Layne Christensen summed up the sentiment of the night – “Awesome!”


A glowing float goes above and beyond with creativity and dazzle. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
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