Hands-across: Parrish Ranch and the Kermiets
by Chris Kermiet
My father, Paul Kermiet, ran the Lighted Lantern camp on Lookout Mountain, Colorado, for thirty years (1946-1976) during the time I was growing up. The Lighted Lantern camp was a mecca for square and folk dancers who came from all over the United States and Canada to spend a week or two dancing with some of the finest callers and teachers in the country. Square dance caller Vaughn Parrish was on the staff there every summer over a span of many years. He’d always bring his wife and kids. His son Terry was about my age, and when we weren’t dancing, we had plenty of adventures. We didn’t get caught, either. (So we didn’t get in trouble–you only get in trouble when you’re caught).
Vaughn was a great caller, and I probably learned a lot from him, simply by osmosis and by listening to him call so much. Parrish Ranch was a working ranch, but in 1958 Vaughn decided to build a square dance barn in the lower pasture by the Little Thompson River. When those folks who took up square dancing in its heyday during the 50’s and 60’s started to retire, many of them acquired RVs and started motoring around the country. Vaughn built trailer hook-ups at the Ranch, and invited folks to come up and stay for a week or two. They held square dances and bar-b-ques just about every night. Then he built some little wooden Tee-Pees so folks who didn’t have an RV would have a place to stay (they’re humble, but adequate if you don’t plan to spend much time in them). And there are plenty of places to pitch a tent as well. So it’s a great spot for square dancing, and will be a wonderful spot for the CROMA Festival.
I teased you a bit in the first paragraph, so I’m going to share one of the tamer adventures with you. One summer at the Lantern, when Terry and I were maybe 16 or 17 or 18, the Public Service Company started to put in new high tension power lines across the mountain. They built these wonderful giant towers, like huge jungle gyms. One was just up the hill from the camp. No high voltage lines yet–and no fence. They had just installed these huge ceramic insulators. We would go up late at night and climb them like giant monkey bars, then climb out onto the insulators about two stories off the ground and swing back and forth. Yahoo! It was a wee bit dangerous–but that was part of the fun. You should really try it sometime. We’re both still alive, and would love to see you at Parrish Ranch.