CSU Marching Band leads the Parade of Lights in Denver

Matt Smith

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At the front of the column of floats, balloons and costumed puppeteers lead the 265-strong Colorado State University Marching Band, playing through their repertoire of holiday and fight songs. Snaking through two miles of downtown in the shadow of the Colorado State Capitol, the parade was attended by over 100 thousand people.

“It was a lot of fun; it’s wonderful as usual,” said sophomore band-member Tyler Santeramo. “It’s great to see all the people smiling and happy, and it’s a lot of fun just being with the band.”

Freshman Nicholas David-Abo had some early reservations about the parade’s arduous march, a first for the newcomer, but they were quickly replaced with the excitement of the festivities.

“It was my first experience in the band, and it was pretty fun,” David-Abo said. “I thought it was going to last a lot longer, because I’d never been to the parade of lights before, but once we got going, it went by pretty quick.”

The parade, a Denver – and Ram – tradition since 1975, has often been beset with frightful weather. Saturday’s balmy 40s temperature ensured even larger crowds lining the parade’s entire route.

A countdown celebration at the foot of the Denver City and County Building lit the landmark’s holiday lights and kicked off the parade. Setting the pace was Major Waddles the Penguin, a long-time fan favorite. Later came CSU flag twirlers and special guest, Cam the Ram.

Ornate horse drawn carriages and a snaking Chinese dragon littered the spaces between the floats, including Denver Water‘s recreation of Moffat Tunnel beneath a snow-billowing mountain, on top of which danced an anthropomorphic toilet. A newcomer to the parade was the brilliantly lit crystal mountain put on by the Independent Electrical Contractors Rocky Mountain.

A train of Lowriders wrapped in lights bounced and “dog-leg’d” while entire choirs on riser floats sang holiday classics and Christian pop ballads. 

The Denver Samoyed Association came out in full force with their segment of the parade, leading a pack of dozens of the floofy Siberian dog breed. Despite the bright lights and cheering crowd, the Samoyeds could not appear happier.

Alex Hoover, a member of the DSA and attendant dog owner, enjoyed the association’s ninth appearance at the Parade of Lights.


“They did pretty well this year,” Hoover said of the Samoyeds. “Its a lot of people but they have a good time.”

Also exciting for the thousands of kids in attendance were the flying jellyfish puppets, fire twirlers and massive balloons of white tigers and snowmen. 

Find the CSU Marching Band’s next appearances on the Music Department’s events calendar

Collegian reporter Matthew Smith can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @latvatalo