‘Celebrate that Basalt is still standing’ — picnic to be held on anniversary of Lake Christine Fire
IF YOU GO
What: Basalt community picnic
Where: Arbaney Park in Basalt
When: Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Details: Hotdogs provided, bring side dish or dessert; park at schools and walk over
If ever there was a good time for Basalt to hold a community celebration, July 3 is it, in the eyes of some community leaders.
The Basalt Regional Heritage Society holds an annual gathering each summer. This year it selected July 3 — the one-year anniversary of when the Lake Christine Fire erupted at the Basalt shooting range. It grew to threaten parts of Basalt on July 3 and July 4, then nearly overran El Jebel Mobile Home Park and the eastern edge of Missouri Heights the night of July 4 before it was wrestled under control.
The fire destroyed three homes, burned more than 12,500 acres and rattled nerves of thousands of midvalley residents.
So why throw a celebration?
“I think because we almost lost the town, we should hold an event as the Basalt Regional Heritage Society to celebrate that Basalt is still standing,” said Diana Cordova Elliott, communications officer for the society.
The community potluck picnic will be held at Arbaney Park in Basalt from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Elliott said it will be a chance to say thanks to first responders who played such a critical role in keeping the midvalley safe during the fire. Roaring Fork Fire Rescue firefighters will attend as will officers with Basalt Police Department and Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
The firefighters have been treated like royalty throughout the year by appreciative residents. People who left for the winter and are now back in the valley are running into firefighters and sharing their gratitude and stories, said Fire Rescue Chief Scott Thompson. He anticipates a pretty big turnout from the ranks of the fire department at the community picnic.
Longtime Basalt resident Joe Zuena, also an executive with Wyndham Destinations, operator of the Inn at Aspen, volunteered to help out with the celebration.
“It’s just a way to get everybody together as a community and hopefully we can continue this,” Zuena said.
Zuena teamed with Brad Mosier of Home Team BBQ to donate hundreds of hotdogs and water for the event. Zuena said it’s a small gesture to show appreciation that Basalt survived. The Inn at Aspen and the barbecue joint located there were among scores of businesses that had employees affected by the fire due to mandatory evacuations for a few days.
Zuena said the Inn at Aspen also made some rooms available for people from the public at large who were displaced by the fire. The Red Cross sought housing from people who didn’t want to stay at the standard shelters because of special needs like pets or personal reasons. The Inn answered the call.
At the community celebration, attendees are being asked to bring a side dish or dessert to share. The event also will be an opportunity to showcase the Arbaney Barn adjacent to the park. The barn was part of a ranch homesteaded by Lottie and Emery Arbaney in the late 1800s. It was a hay barn for the cattle ranch that operated where the elementary and middle schools now exist.
“In 2001, the BRHS noticed that the barn was starting to show some wear and tear and decided to launch a fundraising effort to restore the barn,” Elliott wrote in an email. “It took 10 years to raise the money and get the restoration done and it now serves as Basalt’s museum. This project was undertaken so that an important part of Basalt history can be seen by future Basalt residents.”
Earlier this year, Eagle Scout Dane Elliott further enhanced the barn as his Eagle Scout project. He put artifacts on display and set up the tack, kitchen, bedroom and wagon areas. He also compiled history on Basalt families and historical photos of Basalt for display on computer and via DVD. The computer information will be available Wednesday during tours of the barn.
Parking is extremely limited at the park, so people should park at the schools and walk over. People planning to attend are urged to shoot an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day today so they have an estimate of how many hotdogs they need.
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