Windsor’s Harvest Festival Parade brings in Labor Day crowd from across northern Colorado (video) |

Windsor’s Harvest Festival Parade brings in Labor Day crowd from across northern Colorado (video)

Allison Dyer Bluemel

The annual Windsor Harvest Festival Parade — one of the regions largest Labor Day events in northern Colorado — drew thousands of spectators and 92 floats from across the region Monday morning.

"We really just focused on getting as many floats as possible," Festival Secretary Jessica Thompson said.

Thompson credits the town's marketing and advertising campaign — bigger this year to promote the town's 125th anniversary — for the success in attracting new floats and bigger crowds.

At 7 a.m., hundreds of chairs already lined Walnut and 7th streets along the parade route in anticipation of the event's 9 a.m. start.

Once the parade kicked off, families struggled to keep children from running toward colorful floats and the volunteers who handed out candy, bracelets and toothbrushes.

First-time parade goers Frank and Linda Donahue, Janesville, Wis., were surprised at how early their daughter, whose home sits on Walnut Street on the parade route, set up chairs to ensure they had the "best seats in the house." Their daughter placed the chairs well before 7 a.m., much like other home owners on the street.

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As they prepared for the parade, the Donahue's commented on the amount of horses and fun activity surrounding the parade.

"It's wonderful," Linda Donahue said.

This year, coordinators tied into the town's 125th anniversary theme: Honoring Our Past and Celebrating Our Future.

The effort included more red, white and blue decoration, throwbacks to the Harvest Festival's start in 1921 and a strong presence by military members and veterans.

"We really wanted to work on celebrating what has made Colorado what it is, and you can't do that without honoring our service members," Thompson said.

While the draw of Windsor is its small town atmosphere, residents of Weld and Larimer counties came out to see wide array of businesses and organizations represented in the parade from Windsor's American Legion to local bands and performing acts to Fort Collins tattoo parlors.

"We are expecting (attendance) to be much bigger than last year," Thompson said before the parade.

The large amount of kids, from elementary to high school, involved in the parade also drew many parents to the parade to see them perform.

For Loveland resident Lane Stange, the parade offered a chance to see his son perform in one of the bands and gave Brielle Stange, 8, of Loveland a chance to see the cheerleaders.

For the business owners and organization members in the parade, the bigger crowd will hopefully mean bumps in membership and more customers through greater awareness. So much so that many businesses ranging from Story of My Life Tattoo in Fort Collins to Kiowa Creek Coaches in Mead look to the event for its extra exposure.

"It's about the community outreach," said Dale Edwards, member of the Greeley Merry Mixers square dancing group. "It helps us get new students."

Like many other floats in the parade, Edwards and his fellow members put on a show to attract the attention of the audience as they passed by square dancing on their moving float.

"You haven't lived yet until you've danced on a moving float," he laughed.

For those on military floats, such as the Windsor American Legion chapter and the Fort Collins Marine Corps' float, the day offers them a chance to give their members and fellow veterans well-deserved recognition.

The celebration also gives veterans organizations a chance to get the word out about the services available to other members of the military community.

In fashion American Legion Post 109 Cmdr. Robbie Doman described as typical, the crowd clapped and cheered whenever one of the veteran floats drove by.

"We're hoping for first place," Marine Corp parade coordinator Terry Hartfield joked. "But really, we're hoping to get the recognition and promotion and maybe some new members as a result."

Windsor Harvest Festival Parade Results

First Place Winners – all winners will receive a $100 prize

» Adult Non-Profit: Marine Corps League

» Commercial/Business: Tigges Farm and Costume Castle

» C/B/T/M Group: Knox Fleet and Display

» Horse Group Youth: Lucky Star Equine

» Horse Group Adult: Kiowa Creek Coaches

» Youth Organization: Rocky Mountain Golden Girls Baton Academy

» Tractor: Mike Jarpsz

» Band: Windsor High School band

Second Place Winners – all second place winners will receive a $50 prize

» Adult Non-Profit: Evans Veterans of Foreign War

» Commercial/Business: The Meadows Vet Center

» C/B/T/M Group: Red Dog Signs and Wraps

» Horse Group Adult: Buckin’ A Ranch

» Youth Organization: Windsor High School football team

» Band: TR Paul Academy of Arts and Knowledge