Speer stakes St. Pat's Parade claim
In the second-to-last paragraph of the St. Patrick's Day Parade origins article in the March 8 Westside Pioneer, Westside civic leader/historian Dave Hughes
commented that perhaps a contest was needed to attract more information to the somewhat hazy history of how the event started in Old Colorado City.
There's no contest yet, but the Pioneer received a phone call from Bob Speer, who owned the Templeton Building in Colorado Avenue's 2500 block in the 1980s. Speer said he sponsored Old Town's first St. Patrick's Day Parades in 1983 and '84 before John and Carol O'Donnell took over the effort in '85 (and continued the annual event until they moved it downtown this year).
Speer said his main sponsorship came from Rogers Bar and the local Coors distributor. “It was a period of time when the Westside had just been renovated, and we were looking for ways to bring people over,” he said, adding that the late Millie Cox, who owned the Kinnickinnick bookstore in Old Colorado City, also played a major role.
Participants in Speer's two parades included the state-winning Cheyenne Mountain High hockey team (his son was a member), clowns, Miss Teen Colorado and wheelchair-bound residents of a nursing home throwing carrots, he recalled.
Speer, an area native, emphasized he is “absolutely sure” those were the first St. Patrick's Day parades in Old Town.
Hughes said he had forgotten Speer's involvement when interviewed for the March 8 story, but believes in retrospect “there's no question that Bob Speer put on the first parade.”
The March 8 story included recollections from different individuals who had been involved in Old Town's early St. Pat's parades - including reports that Rogers Bar had played the lead role; also that the first parade was as early as 1975.
Westside Pioneer article