Tag Archives: Fiesta In The Clouds

Latest News – September 13

Salinte! Y Salud! Cultures Come Together in the Cloud City

There are certain things that happen in Leadville to assure that autumn is on its way: the kids go back to school, the leaves start to change – quickly, and the St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade is held. Often touted as the last official “summer” event, the parade has been held the third Saturday in September for nearly 4 decades. And so it will again this Saturday, Sept. 16 with marchers gathering at the top of Capitol Hill at 11 a.m. Everyone is welcome.St Pats Practice Parade

For readers unfamiliar with this one-of-a-kind, Colorado happening, here’s some history on the annual Leadville tradition that has been featured in countless news stories, bringing much needed visitors and attention to Leadville during the leaner years. While many are familiar with the regular Irish holiday, traditionally celebrated on March 17, Leadville’s St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade got its start on historic Harrison Avenue back in 1978. The origin of the idea sounds more like an Irish joke: two Leadville men walk into a bar in Nebraska. They take a look around and can’t believe their eyes: it’s a St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. But how can that be? It’s September!

Being Irish, they stay for a pint or two, discovering that the party was to mark the six-month, half-year “practice” of the official Irish holiday in March. Fortunately, those fine Irish lads, also known as Leadville Judge Neil Reynolds and businessman Walter Klein, brought the idea back to Leadville and thus began one of the Cloud City’s favorite traditions.


One of Colorado’s quirkiest tradition, Leadville St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade has been entertaining September’s leaf-pepping crowds for nearly 4 decades on historic Harrison Avenue. See you Saturday, Sept. 16 at 11 a.m.

The great thing about the St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade is that you never really know what is going to happen. Some celebrations have been unforgettable, like the year three bagpipe bands from the Front Range made the trip up. These musicians are usually booked to play the bigger parades for the real St. Patrick’s Day, but sometimes in September the budget, schedule and pure Irish luck win out. That same year, the parade was suspended midway at the courthouse as Judge Reynolds performed nuptials for a young couple. After the ceremony, all three bands formed a circle and played “Amazing Grace.” Many sentimental tears were wiped away as the bagpipes echoed across a perfect fall day, aspens a blaze along Colorado’s two highest peaks.  

There was at least one year when the parade route went backward, in the “practice” spirit, starting down at the south end of historic Harrison Avenue at the Diamond Shamrock. It was a good concept, but it never really worked. Not only did people forget where to meet pre-parade, but the procession also had a hard time marching past Leadville’s Legendary Irish bar, the Silver Dollar Saloon with all that good whiskey. Some years, only a handful of people marched down the avenue, especially if there was an early snowfall. Other times, a slew of Irish city slickers made the trek up for a perfect Cloud City parade.

2011 Practice St. Paddy's Day Parade

Rain, shine and sometimes snow! Leadville’s St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade takes on historic Harrison Avenue in 2011 with founder Judge Neil Reynolds front and center. The third Saturday in September has hosted the quirky Colorado tradition since 1978. Slainte!

Some Septembers, it seemed the parade might not happen in all due to lack of funds, or clashing Irish personalities. During the first three decades, the parade was always sponsored by the Greater Leadville Hibernian Mining and Marching Society. But as time ticked by, and members grew weary, the new Leadville Irish stepped in to carry on the tradition. In recent years, the group carrying the St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade shillelagh has been The Shack Club, spearheaded by Leadville businessman Luke Finken. And through a set of ironic circumstances – if not flat out Irish luck – Finken is now part owner in the new Irish Bar – Wilde’s Green Hour – which is located right next door to the old Irish bar. Of course, this makes it easier for everyone to find their way to the post-parade revelry, plus marchers now have a pick of pubs.

 So grab your shillelagh, pull on that green sweater and raise your glass: May you have warm words on a cold evening, a full Moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door! Slainte!

Fiesta In The Clouds: Fiesta Fun for Everyone!

Last year the St. Patrick’s Practice Parade was moved from its usual third Saturday in September, to October 1 in order to accommodate the Irish diplomats visiting Colorado. It was a grand party, providing a great day for all, and another opportunity for Leadville to shine in the international spot light.


Fiesta In The Clouds will join cultures with Leadville’s traditional St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade on September 16, creating a cultural melting pot sure to entertain the crowds on historic Harrison Avenue. Slainte! Y Salud!

Since The Shack Club was on the last year of their 3-year parade permit, they graciously transferred that permit, in order that another heritage celebration could make its way down historic Harrison Avenue: Fiesta in the Clouds! In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, this day-long celebration will now join efforts with the St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade for what’s bound to be an international melting pot of cultures, all marching their way down historic Harrison Avenue.

Produced by Fiestas Patrias, a grass roots organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Leadville’s rich Hispanic culture through education and celebration, Fiesta in The Clouds is the brain child of Lee Trujillo, owner of The Scarlet Bar in downtown Leadville.  The idea stemmed from a desire to celebrate and honor Lake County’s Hispanic community and their rich cultural traditions. For readers who may not know, Fiestas Patrias is a Spanish phrase meaning “Patriotic Holidays.”  Fiesta in the Clouds  celebrates the independence days of Mexico, Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Chile and the cultures of all Latin American countries.

In its inaugural year, Fiesta In The Clouds had a lively showing, and this year is lining up to offer a host of fiesta fun, from children dancing to late night Baile! options for the adults, and plenty of delicious cultural dishes to experience. For more details: CLICK.

So there you have it! This Saturday you won’t have to go very far to catch some international flavor, while celebrating Leadville’s rich cultural traditions. Parade starts at 11 a.m. – see you on historic Harrison Avenue. Saliente! Y Salud!

© Leadville Today. 


Un caballero y mujer head home on a beautiful autumn day after last year’s Fiesta In The Clouds celebration on historic Harrison Avenue in downtown Leadville.

Latest News – September 13

Fiesta In The Clouds, Not Shamrocks, on Saturday

The aspens are changing from green to gold, a reminder from Mother Nature that things are constantly in flux in Leadville Today. Change is just part of life. So, look to the aspens to see the beauty in change, and then get out your calendar, because there’s been some September calendar change-ups; one, to a long-standing event, and the other, something new.

fiesta-in-the-clouds-english_leadville-todaySince 1978, Leadvillites have looked forward to the third Saturday in September for the quirky annual St. Patrick’s Day Practice Parade. The golden aspens seemed to match the bright green shamrocks perfectly, with the sounds of bagpipes wailing over the two highest peaks in Colorado. But that won’t be happened this third Saturday in September. But it’s not because Leadville has lost its Irish edge. In fact, quite the contrary. This year, while the St. Pat’s Parade is still going to happen, it will take place two weeks later on Saturday, Oct. 1, to coincide with Colorado Irish Heritage Weekend: full story to come, stay tuned.

But fear not, Leadville, there’s still going to be a parade and party this Saturday, Sept 17. And weather forecasts predict a perfect fall weekend to welcome in Leadville’s newest calendar addition: Fiesta in the Clouds! In honor and celebration of Hispanic Heritage Monthin September, this day-long celebration includes a parade, fiesta at the market with games and food, and culminating with the Fiestas Patrias Gala. live music by Tamborazo, a leading drum corp from the area as well as entertainment by Altera2 Musical. In other words it’s going to be easy to get those hips swaying!

Produced by Fiestas Patrias, a grass roots organization dedicated to preservation and promotion of Leadville’s rich Hispanic culture through education and celebration, this new event should bring the crowds down to historic Harrison Avenue. For readers who may not know, Fiestas Patrias is a Spanish phrase meaning “Patriotic Holidays.”

Fiesta in The Clouds is the brain child of Lee Trujillo, owner of The Scarlet in downtown Leadville.  The idea represents a desire to want to celebrate and honor Lake County’s Hispanic community and their rich cultural traditions which will include the flags of many Latin countries and children dancing in authentic costume.

The festivities will get under way at 11:30 a.m. with a parade down historic Harrison Avenue, albeit with more of a Latin beat than an Irish jig. From there, the fiesta will join forces with the Leadville Community Market in the parking lot of First Mountain Bank to create a celebration that’s sure to return for years to come!

This family-friendly event will include a parade with horses and a marching drum corp, face painting, a bake sale, delicious food and live music. Fiesta festivities can be found on historic Harrison Avenue until the market wraps up at 2 p.m.

The Fiesta Patrias Gala will be held at the Eagles Lodge on Saturday, Sept. 17 and includes dinner. Photo: Leadville Today

The Fiesta Patrias Gala will be held at the Eagles Lodge on Saturday, Sept. 17 and includes dinner. Photo: Leadville Today

But the Fiesta in The Clouds doesn’t stop there. As the sun sets on the inaugural event’s daytime activities, the band will strike things up again at The Eagles Lodge, located at Hemlock and E. 10th Streets in Leadville. It’s Baile! Baile! Baile as the party continues with a Fiestas Patrias Gala. A $20 ticket will get you in the door to be amazed by Altera2 Musical bringing the Latin tunes that should have the dance floor packed. You can buy a $20 ticket in advance at The Scarlet or the chamber, or pay $25 at the door. But plan ahead to have some bucks for an extra cerveza, or the silent auction, stocked with great stuff to buy, with proceeds going towards the next big party!

Oh, and the Gala includes appetizers, catered by El Mexicano and Manuelitas. The Gala doors open at 7 p.m. for apps, with music from 8 p.m. – midnight. How can you top that for a Leadville Saturday night?

Want to stay in touch with what’s next for Fiesta Patrias? Stay connected on their Facebook Page. Quiere este informacion en espanol: AQUI?

In the meantime plan on attending the inaugural Fiesta In The Clouds this Saturday, Sept. 17 in downtown Leadville, Colorado – Ole!