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Businesses cheer wild skating event

Steve Benson

They skated, drank, set off fireworks, slid through the mud naked, camped out and filled the pockets of local business owners. But with the party over, more than 2,000 skateboard enthusiasts from around the country have rolled back home, or at least elsewhere, and the hangover in Carbondale has set in.Behind the town’s skatepark – the site of the first Carbondale Run presented by Thrasher Magazine – a plume of smoke continued to darken the sky Monday afternoon. A fire has been burning on rancher Paul Nieslanik’s property since Saturday night, and was likely started by festival goers, according to the Garfield County sheriff.At first glimpse downtown appears unscathed by the onslaught and local business owners hailed the event as a success.”It was good, there were lots of people and we’re happy about that,” said Carol Bruno, owner of Peppino’s Pizza, which kept its doors open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday to capture the increased business. “Overall, it was a group of good, young adults.” But next to Peppino’s an Alpine Bank ATM was smashed and rendered useless, and down the block a small tree had its branches peeled apart like a banana. No one at the Carbondale Police Department was available for comment Monday. Ship of Fools, a restaurant and bar that featured several punk bands during the weekend, became somewhat of a headquarters for party goers. “We had a ball, it was a good bunch of people,” said Ship of Fools owner Tom Flynn. “It was good for local business. I hope they do it again next year.” But there are perhaps some, including Nieslanik, who would be pleased if the Carbondale Run never returned. The fire at his ranch was reported at 9:06 p.m. Saturday and, as of last night, was still burning a large haystack. It’s contained, but approximately 240 of Nieslanik’s 1-ton bales of hay, meant for his cattle in the winter, have been destroyed. The fire is under investigation, but Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said fireworks and beer bottles were found on the site. The items will be fingerprinted and local festival goers will be questioned. “We’re trying to find out if it was intentional or just a violation of the fire ban,” Vallario said. Two members of the Carbondale Fire Department monitored the smoldering flames Monday; it could be days before it’s fully extinguished. Haystack fires are like tire fires in the sense that they’re extremely difficult to extinguish, said an official from the Carbondale Fire Department. Nieslanik declined to comment about the fire or his feelings about the Carbondale Run. Father Tom McCormick, who lives between Nieslanik’s ranch and the skatepark, said the noise from the event was constant throughout the weekend and his house is full of smoke. But McCormick said he had no problem with the event nor the people it attracted. “I don’t have any category or judgment of skateboarders. If they’re having fun, let them have fun,” said McCormick, who dubbed the event the Woodstock of Carbondale.”But it would be good for the city to organize the event. There was no organization.” Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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