Remember when the Winter X Games hurled all types of challenges at Aspen, from logistical ones to even social ones?
Parking, transportation and the wave of youth flooding the downtown streets were just a few of the shocks to Aspen's nervous system when the ESPN trucks rolled into town in 2002.
How times have changed. With the X Games now here for their 12th edition at Buttermilk, even some of the event's staunchest naysayers have come around to embrace it and what it brings with it.
Sure, we have conditioned ourselves to tolerate a few of the negative byproducts of the X Games - littering is probably the most annoying offense.
But all in all, the X Games have been good to Aspen through the sales tax revenue they bring to the city, the business they send our merchants, the exposure that comes with being broadcast four straight days on ESPN, and the high-energy atmosphere that lifts Aspen for a few days.
Our law enforcement and transportation officials also have the event dialed in so well that it's become second nature to them. Suffice it to say, the Winter X Games run as smoothly as ever these days.
If this is your first time in Aspen for the X Games, or even if you've come to town for all 12 events, we offer the following suggestions to help keep the peace in our town.
• Please don't litter. There are ample trash bins around town to throw away the Red Bull and PBR cans as well as the Taco Bell hat whose coolness wore off after two hours.
• Tip your servers. Aspen's waiters, busboys, bar-backs and bartenders bust their tails this week, and there's nothing more infuriating than getting stiffed or lowballed. Treat your servers right, and they'll extend the favor. Twenty percent gratuity is the going rate.
• Be careful where you toke. Yes, it is no longer a crime to smoke marijuana in Colorado. But just like the laws that apply to alcohol, that doesn't mean you can walk down the Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall and fire up a blunt without getting reprimanded by Aspen's finest. It's no different from taking a swig from a bottle of Jack Daniel's on the steps of the courthouse.
The same rules apply at the X Games venue. So it's a no-toke, no-smoke, no-booze event.
• Enjoy yourself and be safe. There's plenty to do in Aspen when the X Games events are under way, from concerts to great restaurants and bars. With thousands of extra people in town, there likely will be lines to get into some of the local hot spots. That's because the city has fire codes that limit the number of people who can be inside an establishment at any one time. Don't push and shove others to make your way inside. Be patient, knowing that the payoff will come around soon enough.
And when you're at the games, make some noise for these athletes. They are amazing performers who, wherever they finish in the final standings, provide world-class entertainment for everyone.
We hope everyone enjoys a fun-filled, safe weekend. These few days of the year are far different from any others in Aspen, so let's all make the best of them.