Amanda Charles
Snowmass Sun
Snowmass Village, CO, Colorado

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February 19, 2013
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Mardi Gras recap: Loudest in parade spills the beads

SNOWMASS VILLAGE - No, they didn't win best float in this year's Mardi Gras "Snowmassquerade" parade, but they did come away with a win for the most vocally accomplished by shimmying, shaking and shouting their way through the Snowmass Mall during the Fat Tuesday celebration. According to those involved, it wasn't just a two-week preparation period of costume planning, decoration hanging and float maintenance. It was an affair that gave one dynamic team of employees the chance to be just as weird and wacky as the holiday itself.

Finding inspiration in a look-a-like employee, the team from Destination Resorts at the Top of the Village entered this year's parade with a "Where's Waldo?" theme, donning everything from homemade red-and-white-striped T-shirts with blue bottoms, to bib overalls, wigs and capes. Cruising through the Mall on a makeshift, recycled float that towed graciously behind a signature four-wheeler, the team bounced their way through the crowd before stopping to impress the judges with an impromptu dance session.

And if the pictures alone don't do justice for the kind of crazed endeavors the TOV group tackled during this year's Mardi Gras, team leader Tara Willis spilled the beads on their memorable day, including an ultimate goal to win best float in next year's Fat Tuesday celebration.

Snowmass Sun: How long have you been participating? How do you pick who's involved?

Tara Wilis: This was my fourth year in the parade. It's basically one big volunteer effort between our employees - not all of us ride the float, but all of us collaborate on the themes, decorations and costumes that go into it.

SS: Where did the float come from? Do you decorate it differently each year?

TW: We've been recycling the same float for the last few years, which means each year we have to perform some maintenance and repairs to keep it looking good. We decorate the float depending on the theme, and for tradition purposes we always have at least one piece of undergarment hanging somewhere on it.

SS: Other than winning the award for loudest float this year, what was the highlight(s) of the day?

TW: We consider ourselves a really enthusiastic group, so whenever we get together we always have a great time, even if we look crazy while doing it. I think the biggest highlights were breaking down on the hill before the parade, dancing for the announcers and trying to plow our way through the mob of people screaming for beads.

SS: How many strands of beads did you throw? What's the best part about participating in the Mardi Gras parade in Snowmass?

TW: This year we ended up tossing 5,000 strands of beads, which was outrageous for such a short time. We all really like the parade because it's the only event that's organized completely by locals, which gives us every reason to let loose and show off our personalities.

SS: You promise that your team will win best float next year. How do you plan to do it?

TW: I can't give away our secrets, but I can say that we have already discussed plans to make our presentation bigger and better than ever before. If it means retiring the old float and replacing it with something new, we will. We guarantee a win, so bring on the competition!

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The Aspen Times Updated Feb 19, 2013 04:54PM Published Feb 19, 2013 04:23PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.