Mayor seeks date for Lance Armstrong in Aspen
July 28, 2009
ASPEN – Just how much does Aspen love Lance Armstrong?
Apparently enough to give him his own day, as suggested Monday by Mayor Mick Ireland, an avid bicyclist and competitor.
At the outset of the council meeting, Ireland asked City Clerk Kathryn Koch to draw up a proclamation honoring Armstrong with his own day, but City Councilman Steve Skadron quickly objected.
Skadron said while Armstrong, a part-time Aspen resident since 2008, should be recognized for his athletic achievements (he came in third in the Tour de France on Sunday, and has won the event seven times), he shouldn’t get the local attention.
“He has lived here all of five minutes,” Skadron said, adding local athletes should be recognized for their achievements more than Armstrong. Skadron also noted Armstrong, a cancer survivor, is like many celebrities who come to Aspen for anonymity.
“I think Lance’s privacy should supersede capitalizing on his celebrity,” Skadron said.
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Ireland said Armstrong should be recognized not only for his athletic achievements but his efforts to raise cancer awareness, prevention and treatment.
Still, “It feels like a cheap attempt to capitalize on his celebrity,” Skadron said, arguing that Armstrong’s Livestrong campaign was around well before Ireland proposed that Aspen have a day in his honor.
But “cycling has a long tradition here, and I just think it’s a good thing to do,” Ireland said.
City Councilman Dwayne Romero said he would rather have Aspen focus on local efforts like the upcoming Ride for the Cure race, an event benefiting breast cancer treatment and research.
Ireland said Armstrong’s notoriety brings so much more to the fight for cancer and the sport than local events do. And as a celebrity, Armstrong is gracious when people in Aspen approach him, Ireland noted.
Ireland couldn’t get a consensus on council as to whether Lance Armstrong Day will cross the finish line.
“Whether council chooses to have a Lance Armstrong Day I do not know but he has done us a service,” Ireland said. “I guess we’ll contact him and see what he thinks.”
City Councilman Derek Johnson didn’t participate in the exchange and Torre offered a neutral position.
“Politics aside, he came in third and that is a tribute to the city of Aspen, Colorado,” Torre said. “If he is watching right now, I say congratulations. It’s an amazing feat.”