Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus stroll
Melissa Todd, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, waves the American flag as she and about 30 others walk down Main Street in the Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus Fourth of July Stroll Sunday morning.

Despite being called nasty names and having to explain to kids watching from the sidewalk that there would be no traditional Fourth of July parade, supporters of the Green Coalition of Gay Loggers for Jesus marched on Main Street Sunday with their heads held high.

Lady Liberty led a group of around 30 people up and down Main Street, all of whom had gathered for the sole purpose of celebrating the country they love.

Organizer Brian Leland insisted there was no political agenda involved.

"We wanted to make sure the Fourth of July in Bozeman is about what unites Americans, not a debate about what divides us," Leland said. "That's what makes this the best country on Earth."

Leland started the satirically named coalition last year and held his first march last Independence Day. That march drew a crowd of about 70 supporters, followed by a Tea Party march consisting of several hundred people.

Sunday, as the coalition marched on Main, one passerby expressed his distaste for the group, calling them "buttheads" and denouncing them for, he said, wasting taxpayers dollars by requiring the road to be shut down and patrolled for several hours.

Leland said he understood the concern, and issued assurances that the city would be reimbursed in full for the closure costs.

"Last year the irony of the Tea Party insisting on shutting down Main Street was that the closure costs were estimated at $1,100 that they would have to pay staff to close the street down for a parade to protest taxation and government spending," said Leland. "The irony was just too much. So we formed the Coalition and raised enough money not only to offset the closure costs, but also the majority of the Tea Party's closure costs as well."

Sunday's marchers, while small in number, had high spirits and a good sense of humor.

"We were here last year," said Shirley Davidson, referring to herself, her dogs and her friend, Mary Doyle. One of the dogs, Maddie, was sporting a Gay Loggers T-shirt.

"Our dogs are patriots, and I'm a patriot also," Davidson said. "I feel that we need to have things like this. We all love America and this is one way we're showing it."

Doyle expressed her support for the unorthodox march, too.

"I think it's important that the Fourth of July is for everybody," Doyle said. "It's not a political thing. It's not about politics. It's America's birthday. We're not political, we're patriotic."

Leland said he originally thought that last year would be the first and only march for the coalition, but the name of the organization and T-shirt sales took on a life of their own.

"We've sold almost 1,000 T-shirts that have been sent to the Middle East, the Orient, all over Europe, and of course the United States," Leland said.

After the march, as Leland stood on Main Street selling T-shirts, he couldn't help but laugh at the morning's march.

"People cheered, we even got harassed by one guy. I think it was a successful day," he said.

Jolene Keller can be reached at citydesk@dailychronicle.com

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.