On Saturday, it felt like there were about 500 times more people on the hill then there were on Friday. On Sunday, there were probably twice as many as there were Saturday. And today, no doubt, there are even more.
There was a lot going on on the hill this weekend, but the biggest thing of all was the rededication at Buttermilk of Toad Road to honor the life of longtime kids ski instructor Todd Olson, better known as Mr. Toad, Toady or, simply, Toad.
Toad, who spent 33 of his 51 years teaching kids how to ski at Buttermilk, was known for, among other things, bellowing “Aaahwooooga!” anytime it suited his fancy. He died of cancer in June at the age of 51.
About 150 people showed up to honor the man who had more uses for a hotdog than Oscar Meyer would care to acknowledge. (See Weenies in Space, or weenies in your glove.)
Participate in The Longevity Project
The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
The ceremony began with Toad stories. Like the time he was left speechless by the mother of one of his students who one morning, after hearing that Toad was feeling a little slow and tired, told him, “Maybe you just need to take a good poop.”
Or like the experience of Alex, a youngish pro at Buttermilk who, when she was one of Toad’s students, asked him his real name. “My parents didn’t like me,” Toad told Alex. “They named me Ben Dover.” It wasn’t until Alex reached the wise age of 16 that the joke made sense.
Rev. Gregg Anderson from the Aspen Chapel read from a piece penned in the 13th century, a Ute Indian prayer and Thoreau. Andy Hanson shared an essay on Toad by one of his longest and most faithful privates, who wrote of the “unyielding love and friendship Toad showed our children.” And ski instructor Dick Merritt read a letter from Toad’s mom.
The ceremony ended with bottle rockets, the spreading of Toad’s ashes and the unveiling of a sculpture of a bespeckled toad (the tail-less, leaping, amphibian kind, not the human, Buttermilk ski pro kind).
Then everyone skied off, down Toad Road, of course.
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The Aspen Filmfest program, which opens Tuesday night with the Jessica Chastain-led drama “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” is a tribute to the founder, Ellen Kohner Hunt. The festival will also recognize the memory of Hunt with “Ellenfest” on Thursday.