My best friend always raves about holidays in her home town. She always described it at a quaint small town with a square, and place where everyone knows everyone. The only thing is, her small town is Jackson, WY, one of the most famous “small-towns” in the country, and one that has seen a significant increase in tourism since she went to elementary and high school.
However, since we were there for the baptism of her second child, we were excited to spend the fourth “in town”, and see all the fun activities that the town had. First up was the Pancake Breakfast. This is an annual tradition run by the Lions Club. The breakfast includes eggs, sausage and pancakes, as well as juice, milk and/or coffee. My husband and I had eaten early, but the kids wanted to participate, so we got some pancakes, and let them eat with friends also in town. While we ate, the Jackson Hole Community Band played patriotic songs as people ate breakfast, chatted up with friends, and enjoyed the atmosphere.
Soon the band was off, and we were informed that that meant the parade would start soon. We were with a larger group, and a few of them went out and set out blankets and chairs for us to watch the parade. Thankful they did because we had a fantastic spot, right in front on the square. As we watched, the parade had a colorful assortment of floats and groups going by. There was floats from the wildlife reserves, rodeo queens, mounted police, old fashioned cars, every politician and political group around, and plenty of local businesses. Lots of the floats tossed out candy, frozen popsicles, toys, etc. The kids were not excited about the parade until the first candy came out. Then they were excited, and chased down every last piece of candy that came their way.
Later, we went to have lunch at a friend’s place in town. As we arrived, I was astounded. It was a beautiful, large log cabin. In its current form it is a mash up of an original 1920s log cabin, barn, and extension. The home was amazing, but honestly the company was even better. There we let the seven children run and play (and when they got too worked up, put in front of a movie) while we talked, laughed, and caught up and chatted about life and the current times.
Finally, we went back to the apartment to rest and get on some warmer clothing. We were headed to the fireworks and I had been warned it could get cold. Once we were bundled up, we went down to the base of Snow King Mountain, where the group had again, set out blankets to reserve our spot. All along the park were food trucks, so we got a light lunch of pizza (for the kids) and Indo-Chinese food and beer for the adults. The kids played on the play structure at Phil Baux Park almost until they couldn’t see any more, and then joined us to watch the fireworks. A friend, A, and her family came with glow sticks for the kids. As soon as those came out, light saber battles ensued. I was glad they didn’t come out until then because I was getting injured from all the glow sticks being whipped around!
Finally, the sun set and it was time for the show. The fireworks go off from about ½ way up the ski slope. The fireworks are all hand lit, so you see a number of red glowing torches, as they run around to light the fireworks. The fireworks go up and BOOM, you see the explosions right about the mountain ridge. At the start of the show, there was still a small amount of light, and you could see the glow of the mountains behind the fireworks. It was breathtaking.
After the show, we used flashlights and cell phones to pack up the blankets, and kids. Then we walked back to the apartment, tired but thrilled by the show we just saw. After tucking the kids into bed and laying down myself I reflected on the day. I did not grow up in Jackson, but through my best friend R, I had met a number of people in Jackson. I had the opportunity to see it from a local’s point of view, and to experience it as they would. And I can see why R loves it so much. Despite all the tourists who come through (us included), it still manages to retain its small town feel. You watched people on the parade route, come out and hug R and her friends, seeing them after a long time. You saw people at the pancake breakfast animatedly greeting each other. And you saw families playing together at the fireworks. I was introduced to so many people and I always greeted with a warm hug and a smile. My family was welcomed with the same warmth. Jackson is a beautiful place to visit, so those who get to call it home truly are blessed.
Starred photographs taken by Atma Photography