Aspen-area briefs: Owl Creek Chase goes online; Pitkin library staying closed; deadlines for city applications |

Aspen-area briefs: Owl Creek Chase goes online; Pitkin library staying closed; deadlines for city applications

Staff Reports

Owl Creek Chase goes virtual

The Owl Creek Chase will go virtual this year due to spread of the omicron variant of COVID-19, according to updates posted on the Aspen Nordic Center website and the web page for the event.

The annual cross-country ski race from Snowmass Village to Aspen was originally scheduled for an in-person start Jan. 30. Organizers “determined the best way to move forward in the current environment is to cancel the event in (its) traditional format and move to a multiday, at your own time and pace event,” an update on the event page states.

The updated virtual option will allow skiers to ski the 21 kilometer course any time between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, and the course will have a fresh groom on Jan. 30.

Registration is now free at The first 100 skiers to complete the course before Feb. 6 will still get a commemorative Owl Creek Chase hat.

Library to remain closed

The Pitkin County Library will remain closed to the public through at least the end of January, the library has announced. It has also canceled all in-person events through the end of February.

The library closed its doors on Dec. 28 due to public safety concerns amid the spiking number of COVID-19 infections from the omicron variant. Pitkin County closed all of its buildings to the public soon after.

Books and other materials are available for phone or web checkout with pickup available at the main Mill Street foyer Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4:45 p.m.

The library has added a lineup of virtual events to make up for some of its event cancellations, including Gay Ski Week-themed events like a virtual open mic night with mixology take home kit on Thursday and a watch-along movie night screening of the documentary “Pride” online with pick-up snack kit, and virtual bingo on Sunday. More at

Food refund tax applications online

Applications are available for food tax fund refunds issued by the city of Aspen.

Aspen residents who lived within city limits for the entire year of 2021 and who have been registered to vote since at least Jan. 1, 2021, are eligible to apply for a $55 food tax refund, which is available as an online application.

Applicants are required to apply online to reduce paper use and expedite the administrative process.

To qualify for the food sales tax refund, all applicants must:

• Submit the application by April 18; have resided within the Aspen city limits all of 2021; registered to vote in the city from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31; prove residency within Aspen city limits for 2021, and if still living within the city, ensure your current address is the same as your registered voter address.

Residents 65 or older and residents who are legally blind are eligible for additional refund payments. There are some exceptions for persons barred from registering to vote to qualify.

The city created the refund as an incentive to encourage voters to support a sales tax referendum. It was intended to reimburse voters for the approximate amount of sales tax they would pay annually on grocery purchases due to the imposition of a 1% city sales tax.

For an application and more information, visit

For assistance completing the application, visit the finance window on the second floor of City Hall at 427 Rio Grande Place.

Child care financial assistance available

The deadline for new applicants to apply for child care financial assistance with the city of Aspen is Feb. 1.

The city’s taxpayer-funded child care program, Kids First, provides a financial aid program to help defray the expense of child care for working families. Assistance will begin March 1.

Applications are available at Kids First in the Yellow Brick building or at

For more information, contact Kids First at 970-920-5363, 215 N. Garmisch St., Suite 1 in Aspen, or email