Aspen’s Annabelle Inn resurrects Skiing Jesus

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times

ASPEN – Aspen’s Skiing Jesus will be unveiled in his rightful perch on the clock tower at the Annabelle Inn on Main Street Friday after an absence of more than two years.

He’s been in rehab, so to speak.

The statue of many names – Father Time (because he stands next to the clock), St. Nicholas (because he first decorated the old Christmas Inn) and St. Bernard (patron saint of mountain travelers) – was taken off the tower in the spring of 2008 after the arm that held a pair of skis (hence the Skiing Jesus moniker) fell off.

Innkeeper Charlie Case wasn’t sure he’d ever find someone to repair the icon, but Dean Vigil of Aspen Craftsman happened to be in town, soliciting work, right about the time The Aspen Times published a story in February 2009 about the statue’s physical deterioration.

Case had a job for Vigil – fix Skiing Jesus.

First, the waterlogged, wooden figure was kept inside to dry out.

Then, Vigil took him down to his Glenwood workshop, along with whatever parts remained of the missing right arm, including the original hand.

“He had a lot of dry rot,” Vigil said. “He was a mess, actually.

“Yeah, walking in there and seeing that guy with no shoulder or arm, and holes all over him – it was daunting.”

Vigil credits plenty of collaborators who offered help or their two cents’ worth in repairing the statue.

Epoxy, metal and wood all had a part in the repairs. And, the statue has been given a fresh coat of paint – auto paint, actually – that should stand up to the elements.

“We’re pretty stoked,” Case said. The inn will offer food and beverages to celebrate the resurrection, starting at 5 p.m. Expect the unveiling at about 5:30 p.m.

Vigil will be on hand, as will Annabelle Inn owner Dennis Chookaszian, whose old Olin Mark IV skis will be returned to their spot, in the hand of the statue’s extended right arm.

Case suspects the statue first appeared next to the clock tower at the old Christmas Inn shortly after the lodge was built, back in the 1960s. Construction of the Annabelle Inn, built where the old lodge was razed, included re-creating the tower, replete with a new clock and replicated lettering beneath the timepiece that reads “Pleasure Knows No Time.” The statue, however, is the original deal, but for parts of the rebuilt arm.

“I think once he’s back up, everybody will be like, ‘Oh yeah, where has he been?'” Case said.

This bit of info was offered by a reader:

The clock tower and a statue were first added to Christmas Inn in the ’60s when Don and Bob Fischer bought the lodge. The statue was called Father Time, thus the saying, “Pleasure knows No Time.” However the original statue was stolen one night and never found, so a replacement eventually was erected.