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Fourth of July in the 1890’s

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Celebrating from Central City to Georgetown

By Mary Peery

1890 was a good year for the mining towns. Populations increased. Shops and saloons were busy. This resulted in more fees paid to the town’s coffers, giving town leaders the ability to fund large Fourth of July celebrations, which would last multiple days. It was common for a town having a big Fourth of July celebration to invite the town leaders of the neighboring communities. In 1890, the Idaho Springs town leaders invited the Nevadaville town leaders to Idaho Springs for the Fourth of July celebration. This celebration included balloon ascensions. The town residents looked forward to the events for most of the year, and they practiced to do well in the competitions.

The town of Nevadaville held a two-day Fourth of July celebration in 1898. J.T. Semmens was Marshal of the Day. On July 4th the celebration began with a Grand Parade at 10 a.m., with one band in attendance. Then E. J. Rush read the Declaration of Independence. The rest of the day was dedicated to sports, primarily races of many types. Such as: children, men, ladies, and donkeys. The potato race was for participants under the age of eight. The egg and spoon race could prove to be messy.

The top first prize was $10 and four events featured this award: team pulling with four teams entered, the one hundred yard dash, which was a free for all, and the Fireman’s Handicap race of 100 yards. Cash amounts were also given to second place winners and some events gave third place prizes. The last competitive event of the day was step dancing to win $5. After all the competitions, the Grand Pavilion Ball was held. At night, the fireworks were shot-off from the Ophir Mine.

On July 5th, at 9:00 a.m., the Callithumpian parade to King’s Flat took place for a $10 first prize. A Callithumpian parade is a loud, boisterous, spontaneous parade involving crude noisemakers such as cow bells, pots, and pans. At 10:00 a.m., the cricket game between the Mountain Daisies and Denver began. At the same time the baseball game featuring the Nevada Stars versus New York also began. The pig race was the next competition. One of the highlights must have been the grand balloon ascension on King’s Flat. Then the final competitions were held: wheelbarrow race (blind folded), obstacle race, tug-of-war, and more running races. The tug-of-war competition featured four teams and the first prize was $50. The last event of the day was another dance competition. This time a waltz competition to win $5, followed by the Grand Pavilion Ball in the evening. It was finally time to pack up the remains of the picnic lunches and head home to look forward to next year’s celebration.

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