Aspen’s Wintersköl parade scaled back
ASPEN ” Changes to this year’s Wintersköl festivities are raining on the parades of some local businesses.
Saturday’s Wintersköl parade is about half as long as previous years and will not follow the traditional route that has been part of the winter celebration for decades, leaving some businesses that depend on the crowds out in the cold.
The parade will not go down Main or Mill streets at all. Instead, it will begin at the corner of East Hyman Avenue and South Spring Street, near the Aspen Athletic Club. It will then run compactly through the core of downtown.
Bentley’s at the Wheeler, a popular bar and restaurant for parade-watching, will not benefit this year from hordes of people flocking to the corner of Mill Street and Hyman Avenue to catch a glimpse of Aspen tradition.
“For the past 20 years, in one form or another, it has come off of Main Street,” said Keith Hatanaka, manager at Bentley’s. “I’m a little disappointed that it isn’t coming by here; it helped.”
Part of Hatanaka’s frustration is that he was unable to understand the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s rationale for changing the parade route. He called ACRA but his messages went unreturned, Hatanaka said.
Bill Dinsmoor, owner of Main Street Bakery, located next to Paepcke Park where the parade used to begin, also didn’t know why the route was changed.
“I liked that it started by our place for transparent reasons,” he said.
ACRA President and CEO Debbie Braun said the route was condensed and the length shortened because of a lack of participation in recent years. Going through the downtown core makes more sense when there are only a few floats, she added.
The decision was made during a debriefing meeting after last year’s parade. With minimal resources and participation, it was decided to scale the parade back until ACRA can get more locals involved.
“We are trying to re-energize our parade and bring it back to life,” Braun said.
And the parade’s time has been changed as well ” from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. to accommodate families whose children typically take naps at 1 p.m. or are in ski school.
“It gives people a little more time on the mountain,” Braun said, adding that since the parade will go past the gondola, those who are skiing will be able to gather at the base of Aspen Mountain to watch.
As a result of pushing the start time back, there are 15 participants registered this year as opposed to four last year.
ACRA Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Albright-Carney said feedback from families was the impetus for changing the time. She added that parading past the gondola creates an opportunity to capture more spectators and hopefully in the future, more participants.
All parade activities ” the judging, the canine fashion show and a concert by the band, Kinetix ” will be centralized in one location at the corner of Galena Street and the Cooper Avenue Mall.
“Our main goal is to increase participation in the parade and create vitality throughout the core of town,” Braun said. “This year we have worked so hard to get our parade back to the glory of years past.
“I think the jury is still out on whether the move will be deemed good or bad for business, and I just hope that our local businesses will wait to judge the success or failure of the new route until after the weekend.”
Darren Chappel, owner of the Cantina, located at the corner of Main and Mill streets, said he doesn’t think he’ll miss out on too much business because Wintersköl in recent years has failed to attract a large crowd.
“It’s a really small parade,” he said. “If they changed the Fourth of July parade, I’d be upset.”
Braun said ACRA is taking entries for the parade until 5 p.m. Friday. Registration is free. Call 925-1940 for more information.
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