Golden’s “The Best of the West” Parade rides again

Fewer floats, smaller crowds than usual during annual event

Corinne Westeman
cwesteman@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 8/1/22

Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and their cowboys and cowgirls were back in the saddle again as “The Best of the West” Parade returned to downtown Golden July 30.

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Golden’s “The Best of the West” Parade rides again

Fewer floats, smaller crowds than usual during annual event

Posted

Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and their cowboys and cowgirls were back in the saddle again as “The Best of the West” Parade returned to downtown Golden July 30.

The parade, which is part of the annual Buffalo Bill Days festival, was canceled in 2020 and 2021. It returned this year, but with fewer floats and seemingly smaller crowds than in years past.

Longtime emcee Matt Becker said there were only 32 floats this year, compared to the usual 100 or so, and some crowd-favorites like the Shriners and Westernaires were missing. He explained that having a smaller parade was a way to ease back into the tradition after a two-year absence.

Despite the smaller size, both parade participants and onlookers alike were glad to see the summertime tradition return.

“I always look forward to it, and so does the community,” Becker said. “ … It’s a great civic event.”

Jim and LuAnne Dale, who’ve attended about 10 times since moving to Golden in 1999, said it’s always fun “to see all the people get excited” for the parade.

They also appreciate the variety of participants, describing how they saw everyone from the Young Marines to local businesses and the fire department along the staging area.

Decked out in his martial arts uniform, 4-year-old Xavier Williams was among those in this year’s parade. He and his mom, Golden’s Leslie Williams, walked in the Victory Martial Arts float.

“I’m glad he got to be in one. Maybe he’ll get to be in more (parades),” Leslie said.

Williams and her mom, Cheryl Pilcher, enjoyed seeing the event return. Pilcher, who graduated from Golden High School and now lives in Black Hawk, and her daughter said “The Best of the West” is always such fun for children, whether they’re watching or participating.

A taste of the Old West

The parade’s Western flair is a major draw for many, like Highlands Ranch’s Todd Liebenow and his family.

Liebenow returned to watch “The Best of the West” for the first time in several years on July 30, explaining how his family always enjoys parades.

“It’s the sense of community — everyone coming together and celebrating something we share,” he said of why he likes parades in general.

He recalled going to parades in Illinois, saying they didn’t have nearly as many horses. So, he always appreciates the equestrians and “folks dressed in Western gear” at Golden’s parade.

Golden in general, he said, makes him think of an old Western kind of town.

And that’s just the way Parade Grand Marshal Jan Kray wants it.

Kray, a member of the Buffalo Bill Saddle Club, described how the parade was formed by BBSC members riding down from Buffalo Bill’s gravesite on Lookout Mountain. So, that equestrian and Western aspect is very important to preserve.

Plus, she said, people always love seeing the horses.

Overall, Kray thought this year’s event went well. She had fun serving as grand marshal, saying, “It was quite the honor … to be able to represent the Buffalo Bill Saddle Club.”

Lakewood’s Ashley Lewin and her 20-year-old painted horse, Jasmine, also rode in the parade for the club. While they’ve been in other parades, the two were newcomers to “The Best of the West.”

Lewin said she’d do it again. She thought Golden’s had a lot of good energy and very friendly crowds. She liked interacting with the community and seeing Jasmine’s response to the crowds’ energy.

“Golden is a fun place to ride,” Lewin said.

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