Barbara Lawlor, Rollinsville. With one gun in his holster and another one jammed into his pocket, Rollinsville Mayor Tim Underwood greeted a bunch of local residents on Saturday, Rollinsville Independence Day.
In his black hat and black vest and with long hair and beard typical of a wild west gunslinger, Underwood explained why Rollinsville celebrated an Independence Day which was independent of America’s Fourth of July event. It was the 130th Independence Day celebration in Rollinsville.
Governor William Gilpin was a politician, land speculator, and writer who believed in Manifest Destiny. He was the first governor of the Colorado Territory and was brought down by unscrupulous financial dealings. Typically, Gilpin’s 1862 speech was read as part of the ceremony.
The First Independence Day took place in 1885 when the town ousted John Quincy Adams Rollins, who owned the town and made up his own rules. Rollinsville residents were and still are fiercely proud of their unique history and becoming free of a tyrant was worth a holiday.
On Saturday, the parade strolled through town, a combination of politicians, old cars, a lady of the night, and magnificent draft horses pulling a vintage wagon.
Anne Schafer, Gilpin County Assessor, carried signs. Jeanne Nicholson, state senator, waved from her perch on the wagon. Dan and Karen Adler promoted Jake Adler as a write-in candidate for Sheriff, and Colleen Stewart campaigned to be re-elected as county clerk.
A Wild West Shootout took place, although no one was sure who was the good guy and who was the bad guy and both ended up shot dead in the street when the mayor himself joined in the gunfire. It was noisy enough to send the dogs scurrying for a hiding place.
As the gunpowder wafted away into the breeze, the parade spectators drifted off, many of them going to the historic Stage Stop Inn for some succulent roast pig smoked by Noah Goodman.
Children careened down a bubble slide and local bands played music all afternoon and night long.