Despite growth, Berthoud Day retains small-town feel
By John Gardner
Mary Wooldridge stood on the curb of Mountain Avenue in front of the Wayside Inn, Saturday, as the Berthoud Day parade slugged past, just feet away from the spot where she used to watch the parade as a child growing up in Berthoud.
Her grandparents used to live in the house at 533 Mountain Ave. The home is adjacent to the Wayside Inn building and is the current location of New Leaf Realty and Farmers Insurance office.
“This was all yard and there was a garage there, too,” she said, pointing to the area that is now a parking lot.
Berthoud Day has always been the unofficial summer kick-off for Berthoud residents like Wooldridge, and it remains that way for a whole lot more. Berthoud Day is an institution that is as established as the banks of the Little Thompson River.
“It’s always just been a fun day,” Woolridge said. “And it’s pretty much the same, it’s just bigger.”
She recalled attending Flapjack Day, as it used to be known, for breakfast when she was a kid.
“I remember going over there and eating pancakes with my grandma and grandpa,” she said.
The local Boy Scouts still do the pancake breakfast, which was a popular event once again this year. And then there was the annual Berthoud Day parade that drew a record number of entrants this year. For Berthoud’s Jim Alden, the parade is an annual event that he’s attended, as far as he knows, for the past 63 years.
Just to clarify, Alden is 63 years old.
“When I was young, I imagine my parents brought me,” he said. “I’ve been coming as long as I can remember.”
And while he may have missed one over the years, he contends that he doesn’t remember missing a parade, he said.
“Not unless I was really, really young,” he said.
He definitely remembers being younger than 10 and coming to the parade and enjoying the day’s festivities. Alden still looks forward to the annual event, but said that he surely enjoyed the “good ‘ole days” with events like the tug-o-war, chasing greased pigs, and tractor pulls at the baseball park.
He said the biggest difference is the sheer size of the crowd and parade entrants.
“Used to be you knew everyone that was here, now you hardly know anybody,” he said. The town’s grown so much, you know. Back 30 years ago or so, you knew everybody.”
According to Berthoud Area Chamber of Commerce Director Deanne Mulvihill, this year’s parade had 75 registered participants prior to the start of the parade, which is the most ever.
“And we had several people just show up this morning who wanted to be in the parade, too,” Mulvihill said.
According to Sgt. Jim Anderson with the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement only had a few minor incidents and the whole day was pretty low-key.
“It ran a lot smoother than I predicted, had just a few minor incidents at the park, but that was it,” he said. “The whole day exceeded my expectations.”
Despite the growth, the day hasn’t lost its small-town, fun feeling, Alden said. And the added interest is good for the town and the vendors at the park.
Judy Bernard watched the parade with Woolridge and Alden. She, too, is a hometown girl, born and raised here. And, like Woolridge and Alden, she has attended Berthoud Day longer than she can remember.
“If there was a parade,” Bernard said. “We were here.”
Over the years they’ve continued the tradition of bringing their families to the parade each year, too. And now they’ve even got grandkids they bring to the parade.
Bernard and Alden agreed that there weren’t as many classic car clubs in the parade as there are today.
“Back then, they were covered wagon clubs,” Alden joked.
Woolridge and Bernard live in Loveland now, but they still come back to the parade each year.
“It’s good to have a hometown that you can always come back to,” Bernard said.
It’s just something the trio doesn’t plan to miss.
“Seeing people you’ve known all your life,” Bernard said was the best aspect of Berthoud Day. “That is the best part.”
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