Grand Lake looks to prohibit water zone during Buffalo Days Parade due to safety concerns |

Grand Lake looks to prohibit water zone during Buffalo Days Parade due to safety concerns

In 2017 the crew from Native Sons Services rides down Grand Avenue with a truckload of water to participate in the Buffalo Days Parade water zone.
Lance Maggart /

Change is in the air in Grand Lake this month as local officials discuss and plan for the elimination of the water zone area from the town’s popular Buffalo Days Parade.

Monday night Grand Lake’s Board of Trustees heard a presentation from the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce about the elimination of the water zone area from the town’s Buffalo Days Parade, part of Grand Lake’s annual Buffalo Days event, held each year in July. Grand Lake Chamber Director Emily Hagen addressed the board regarding the topic and outlined the concerns the chamber has about the event and its related liability.

Hagen began by noting the water zone has existed as a part of the Buffalo Days Parade for several years though over time the dynamic of the water zone has evolved.

“Initially it was intended to be squirt guns but it has turned into something much more aggressive,” Hagen said. “When you ask people about the water zone now, they will tell stories about frozen water balloons and pressurized water tanks. We don’t want to do away with the water element we just want to do it wiser and in a family friendly way.”

According to Hagen water shot from a pressurized water tank broke a car window in the water zone area two years ago. Mayor Jim Peterson noted “people did get hurt” in the water zone at last year’s Buffalo Days Parade.

“We had a discussion with the attorney,” Peterson said. “We can’t get insurance if we allow it. If we sanction it we are liable.”

Peterson said he was personally in favor of eliminating the water zone from the parade.

Local businessman Keith Kratz offered comments in support of Hagen Monday night. Kratz and his wife own and operate Studio 8369, a fine art gallery in Grand Lake. Kratz’ gallery is located at the far eastern end of Grand Avenue in the middle of the block that has historically served as the location for the water zone activities. Kratz noted the impacts of the event on business and stressed the ecological affect of water balloon fragments littering the streets of town.

“Something has to change before someone gets hurt,” Kratz said. “I would support this being moved somewhere else in town.”

Hagen said she hopes to move the water area to a new location to allow for its continued existence though she highlighted the importance of controlling the event to insure safety. She informed the board that Grand Lake’s Fire Department has expressed interest in putting on a water zone event as part of Buffalo Days at a different location within the community.

“The fire department is willing and eager to put on a water element after the parade,” Hagen said.

Various locations were discussed as options for alternative locations for the water zone with much of the discussion focusing on the Lakefront Park area south of Grand Avenue on Lake Avenue.

Hagen informed the board that the Chamber’s parade applications for this year will clearly state that water elements are not allowed on floats. However, she stressed the need for action from the town board to prevent spectators and parade attendees from engaging in water fights during the parade. She noted that officials from the Grand County Sheriff’s Office had recommended the passage of an emergency ordinance to that effect, which would allow law enforcement officials to enforce the prohibition.

“We have worked with the chamber and talked to people from town,” Sheriff Schroetlin said. “We have the same concerns. Fun turns into chaos, and we don’t’ want to see anybody get hurt.”

At the end of the discussion the Grand Lake board voted unanimously to direct town staff to develop an emergency ordinance prohibiting water elements within the town’s parades. The emergency ordinance will come back before the Grand Lake Board of Trustees for a formal vote at their next meeting on June 24.

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