To some locals, this suX | AspenTimes.com

To some locals, this suX

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN As the Winter X Games close another successful year and Aspen’s businesses smile, many locals expressed frustration at the weekend’s packed buses, trash downtown and general unruliness. “It’s too insane,” said Jake Velasquez, 22, of Glenwood Springs. “By the time Thursday came, I was over the thrill of it. People’s respect level just vanishes during the X Games.”Things have changed since the X Games first arrived in 2002, when 36,000 people attended. This year’s event attracted 76,150 people; nearly 70,000 have attended for the last two years. The record is significant, considering the games went from five days in past years to four this year. The big numbers strain city services, from trash collection to transit. Aspen law enforcement certainly will breathe a sigh of relief when the crowds leave after four days that saw more than two dozen cases, including the firing of a gun near officers making a traffic stop and the alleged assault of an Aspen police officer.”The RFTA bus drivers should get a huge raise,” said Naomi Mann, who came out from Denver. “It was awful coming up from Glenwood. The bus driver was Latino, and some kids cursed him out. It’s a great event, but there’s a respect issue.” With the X Games set to stay in Aspen through 2010, many locals are grudgingly positive about the future. Numerous people talked of the significant value to local businesses.”This year was amazing,” said Michele Hansen, owner of the Hidden Jewel, a boutique in Aspen that did better this year than during X Games past. “We had record breaking days on clothing, handbags, belts, everything. It was really nice.”Last year’s X Games generated an extra $3.37 million in Aspen retail sales, according to the city’s finance office. And for the past few years, the hotels in Aspen are booked for months before the games come to town. “We didn’t have a place to stay, so we stayed in our car,” said Gabrielle Lyon, 19, of Denver. “We freshened up at the Hotel Jerome.”Though Lyon and a friend were positive about the trip up, saying it was sweet to scope the hot competitors up close at events, the car-as-bed wasn’t quite so sick. As she put it, “We went to Common, but the crowds were a little much.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com

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