Aspen Gay Ski Week vows to set civil-union ceremonies record | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Gay Ski Week vows to set civil-union ceremonies record

Karl Herchenroeder
The Aspen Times

Celebrating its 37th year in January, Aspen Gay Ski Week will hold a group civil-union ceremony in Wagner Park, a gathering organizers hope will be the largest of its kind.

With the recent passing of civil-union legislation in Colorado, Jim Guttau, spokesman for Gay Ski Week, said the timing is perfect.

"What better way to celebrate this law passing than to have this large civil-union ceremony?" he said.

The ceremony, called All for Love, which is open to all same-sex couples, will take place at 11 a.m. on Jan. 18, followed by a champagne-and-cake reception at the Limelight Hotel.

"It's the culture of Aspen that this city was founded on: being liberal and so open-minded, just embracing everyone," Guttau said of the decision to hold the event in Aspen.

Guttau's favorite event of Gay Ski Week, which kicks off Jan. 12, is Aspen Mountain's Downhill Costume Parade & Contest, a spectacle that resembles "The Rocky Horror Show" on skis.

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"It is amazing to see how many people in the city of Aspen come over," Guttau said of the downhill event. "It's like the whole city shuts down for lunch for people to come over to watch it. That's why people come back year after year for Aspen."

Aspen Gay Ski Week is the nation's largest and oldest gay ski event. This year's theme is equality.

The original idea was to hold the civil-union ceremony on top of Aspen Mountain, but the logistics proved troublesome.

"It would be difficult to get everyone on top of the mountain on the gondola and get them there on time," Guttau said. "Obviously, you have to yield to the skiers."

Guttau said he hopes the gathering will be not only the largest of its kind but also the highest, at 7,908 feet in elevation. Response, he said, has been positive.

"I'm hoping the Pitkin County Courthouse will be ready for this inundation of paperwork," Guttau said. "It sounded like there have already been a few civil unions go through, so it won't be the first. It sounds like they've had some practice already."

Guttau said organizers also are working with Australian travel partners on raffling off an expenses-paid trip to Gay Ski Week for one Aussie couple. But he's not sure how possible it is: Unlike its neighbor New Zealand, Australia does not recognize civil unions.

A honeymoon package, which includes lift tickets up the Silver Queen Gondola and other amenities, is also available from the Limelight Hotel.