Prospects Still Alive For Popular Teller County Event In 2021
The long standing and much anticipated Salute to American Veterans Rally and motorcycle ride, a several-day annual festival that Teller County residents have enjoyed for several decades, has faced major economic challenges due to the pandemic.
It also has experienced certain opposition from rival organizations and vocal critics over the last couple of years,
But ProPromotions President Jim Wear, whose company has spearheaded the rally, is working to bring some sort of veterans’ celebration to Teller in 2021.
Last year, the city of Cripple Creek cancelled the event due to a rising surge of COVID-19 cases. And for 2021, the city has decided to not fund any special events, except for its July 4th celebration, due to fiscal cutbacks and concerns regarding the COVID-19 situation.
Plus, some members of the Cripple Creek American Legion Riders Victor-Cripple Creek Post 171 have been in a dog fight with Wear over the rally, according to social media reports. Some of these antics have raised the ire of the state American Legion Board of Directors, which resulted in Post 171 being sanctioned.
In a letter dated February 10, 2021, regarding sanctions, the state board stated, “We have supported the Cripple Creek Veteran’s Rally almost since its inception over 30 years ago, and we will continue to support it. In fact, this rally directly supports three of our Four Pillars. Additionally, events like the Veteran’s Rally strike right at the core of our Preamble of the Constitution of the American Legion .It’s important for you to know that American Legion Post 38 fully supports Mr. Jim Wear and the efforts of Pro Promotions. Pro Promotions, along with the partnerships of many veterans’ organizations, has spent years making this event successful. Disparaging the efforts of Pro Promotions for decades of community service is despicable, dishonest, and a slap in the face to our Nation’s veterans who gather here annually.”
On February 16, the state board took further action and reportedly revoked the charter of American Legion Riders Victor-Cripple Creek Post 171.
The letter of revocation written by Commander Greg Jackson also stated, “Additionally I recommend that further review of Constitution and By-laws of all Rider programs, from Department of Colorado American Legion Riders Committee to post-level programs, be conducted to clarify and prevent similar occurrences getting out of hand in the future.”
In a telephone interview with Wear, he commented on the revocation and the sanction action. Wear said, “Under the circumstances, it’s appropriate action.” He continued, “We’ve always supported Post 171 financially anytime they had a project going. Rally proceeds were always available to help them.”
Regarding the individuals Wear has been in conflict with at the post, he said, “What we saw was a handful of rogue individuals and structurally an inability for anyone to control them. We appreciate the state commander coming in and taking action.”
Future of Rally Still In Question
As far as the future of the rally, Wear is considering a number of options. His main focus is on keeping the rally in Teller County. Last week, Wear got together with officials of the county and Woodland Park community leaders to discuss rally possibilities.
Wear lamented the fact that, “We are not in a position to try to pull off a rally as we know it in Cripple Creek. We still have in mind to move forward with something.”
In conversations with Woodland Park, Wear hopes to be able to put something together that is a little more than what they were able to do last year. Topics of discussion will include how to deal with parking, medical standby issues, police involvement, and infrastructure and logistical issues.
Veteran groups in other counties have also invited Wear to come and look at possibly moving the rally to their communities. Wear said, “We’re just weighing options at this point.”
Teller County Commissioner Dan Williams, who is involved with several veteran organizations in the county, told the Cripple Creek City Council at a recent meeting that he hopes some type of “hybrid” veterans’ celebration or tribute could occur this year. He thanked the city council for recently releasing a letter, endorsing the Salute Rally, and indicating that funding for the event could be available in 2022.