Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

Author Jackie Taylor Zortman

When we first moved here 35 years ago, I was absolutely stunned at the festivities and enormous crowds that come to this little mountain town to celebrate July 4th.  After an early morning fund raiser breakfast (7:00-9:00 AM) for the Mountain Rescue Team, things start rolling (literally) around 10:00 AM  with a long parade and streets clogged to the max with spectators from all over the country.  Chances are you’ll catch candy or beads thrown from some float or you just might get soaking wet from the fire truck hoses.

Normally, the US Air Force does a flyover during said parade.  Last year, a terrific young man I watched grow up right next door and graduate from the Air Force Academy  as a pilot and  major in the US Air Force, flew his F-16 fighter jet through this canyon  upside down over Main Street…really low. Mouth-dropping awesome!  Rumors have it he will be the pilot again this year, so we’re all anxious to see what he has in store for his beloved home town.

Right after the parade there are barbecues at the Masonic Lodge #37 and adjacent Elk’s Lodge #492 on Main Street, an ice cream social at the Ouray County Historical Museum, kids games in the park and water fights with powerful fire hoses at 2:00 PM at 6th and Main.  At dusk the Jeeps and other 4 WD vehicles have glow sticks and twinkle lights secured to their bumpers at the overlook above town and they provide what we used to call a  flare parade (now named a 4WD  Jeep Glow Parade) winding down the switchbacks into town.  As a finale, at dark the fireman put on a fantastic show of spectacular fireworks above the overlook that light up Mt. Abrams and the surrounding other mountains.  After that, the roads are totally plugged with traffic leaving town for an hour or two.

July 4th Water Fights Patrol

July 4th Water Fights Patrol

My husband was the chief of police here for 22 years and it was the most challenging day of the year for his officers and the other agencies who assist in this extravaganza.  For many years, someone dropped a full case of dynamite into the canyon above the river bridge at the ice park and it would rattle your windows and have you jumping out of bed in the wee hours of the night. This is an old tradition left over from when Ouray was a booming mining town.

So as you go about celebrating in whatever way it’s done where you are, enjoy yourself and please be safe. We lost our beloved 21-year-old grandson six years ago in a mountain ledge fall while celebrating this holiday, so being mindful of  safety is extremely important.

Chief Richard B. Zortman at start of shift.

Chief Richard B. Zortman
at start of shift.



About jtzortman

Author of "WE ARE DIFFERENT NOW" - A Grandparent's Journey Through Grief, first place award winning novel "FOOTPRINTS IN THE FROST" and award-winning novel "SNOW ANGEL". Contributing author to anthologies "Felons, Flames & Ambulance Rides", "American Blue", "Recipes by the Book: Oak Tree Authors Cook" and "The Centennial Book of The National Society of Daughters of the Union 1861-1865". Numerous articles, poems and short stories published since 1990. Charter Member of the Public Safety Writers Association and member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. Winner of ten writing awards. I live in a quaint Colorado mountain tourist town with my husband and Siamese cat. When deeps snows blanket the terrain and spectacular views from my windows, it becomes the perfect spot in which to write.
This entry was posted in American History, Colorado, Jackie Taylor Zortman, July 4th Holiday. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to JULY 4TH IN OURAY

  1. mmgornell says:

    Great post, happy Independence Day, Jackie!


  2. Dac Crossley says:

    Happy Fourth, Jackie! Ring, Grandpa, Ring!


  3. jtzortman says:

    Thanks, Mad. Hope your July 4th is great, too.


  4. ELAINE RYAN says:

    So enjoy reading your posts. Sending lots of hugs to you and your family for this holiday weekend.


  5. Sounds like a great place to live and work. You two are truly blessed.


  6. jtzortman says:

    We both moved here from large cities and love it here after all these years. It’s not always easy living here, but it’s worth it. It wasn’t always smooth sailing with his job due to small town busy bodies with their thoughts, but it was a lot less dangerous that his first 20 years career in the city.


  7. ralph murphy says:

    being careful IS really important at this holiday. sounds like this town really come together!


  8. jtzortman says:

    Thanks for stopping by and letting me know you did, Ralph. It’s amazing how crowded this little tourist town gets over July 4th. Have a great one!


  9. Peggy says:

    Great post, Jackie! Some of our favorite memories are Indepence Day at your house. Happy Independence Day. We will be thinking of you and yours.


  10. jtzortman says:

    Thanks, Pegs. Yes, we had some great times together, didn’t we? RB and I will be doing the holiday alone this year for the first time. Jill’s brother just passed away at 48, so things won’t be usual or festive for us as a big extended family. Of course, Barb doesn’t do the 4th because of Pete’s death or her birthday on the 5th for the same reason. He died in the early hours of the 5th and she hasn’t celebrated her birthday since. We have the best place in the whole town to view the fireworks and will get out and about a bit, then do our own picnic dinner. Hope you guys have a great time!


  11. Ron Corbin says:

    This took me back 55 years. I was born and raised in a town (LeRoy, KS) that’s half the size of Ouray, but the memories of growing up in “small-town USA” with their 4th of July and their annual Homecoming Days in the Fall will never leave me. Really enjoyed this, Jackie.


  12. jtzortman says:

    Ron, That warms my heart to read. Yes, both of us came from big cities, so we love this small town comaraderie. Thanks for stopping by and leaving this wonderful comment. Have a great July 4th!


  13. Thank you for this virtual visit to Ouray. Holidays are so hard. Hugs.


    • jtzortman says:

      Glad you could join us, Nancy. 🙂 Thanks for tagging along, as I can always count on you doing. Just got home from the cemetery and then a visit with Barb on her birthday.


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