'Steamboat's Own Winter Games'

The theme is perfect.

In honor of the community's Olympic tradition -- past and present -- the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club selected "Steamboat's Own Winter Games" as the theme for the 93rd Winter Carnival.

"We try to have something that is current with what's going on or something celebrating Ski Town USA or honoring Howelsen Hill," said Katy Tirone, the club's director of special events.

Unless you've attended a previous Diamond Hitch Parade, chances are you haven't seen anything quite like it. The Diamond Hitch Parade traditionally follows the Sunday street events on Lincoln Avenue, and parade participants wanting to be judged have to have at least four skiers or snowboarders holding on to points of a rope tied in the shape of one or more diamonds.

They also must wear costumes and decorations corresponding with the theme, and they must keep the diamond shape of the rope during the entire parade. Parade entrants can earn extra points for staying in the telemark position and playing music audible to the judges.

Animals, people or vehicles can pull the skiers or riders down snow-covered Lincoln Avenue.
"I'd say the parade, the street events and the night show are the signature events," Tirone said. "But everything throughout the four- to five-day period is unique in its own way."

This year's Diamond Hitch Parade is Feb. 12 and takes place during the opening days of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

The Lowell Whiteman School and Whiteman Primary School often team up to enter the Diamond Hitch Parade. Whiteman Primary School employee Mary Williamson said brainstorming for this year's entry began early.
"We usually do a double diamond," she said. "The middle-school-aged students ski with the older students. They do get together and collaborate on costumes and get together and decorate the float."

The Lowell Whiteman School and Whiteman Primary School have students involved in the Winter Sports Club. Former Olympians, such as 2002 silver medalist Travis Mayer, graduated from Whiteman, so this year's theme hits home.

While those forming the traditional diamond hitch make up a number of the float entries, the parade is open to everyone.

In addition to the Whiteman schools, Routt County Search and Rescue, Soda Creek Western Mercantile, the Steamboat Ambassadors and the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are frequent parade participants.
"We have people that don't ski or hold the diamond hitch," Tirone said. "They are more in it to be a part of the Winter Carnival. Anyone is welcome to enter the parade."
And to watch.

This year, Tirone wanted to send out friendly reminders to participants. Entrants using vehicles in the parade need to make sure those vehicles are four-wheel drive or have chains for their tires. People also are asked not to throw candy or beads so young children will stay off the parade route.

This year's street events are scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Feb. 12 in downtown Steamboat. The parade will follow.

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