Mountain Mayhem: Mardi Gras in the Mountains

May Selby
Courtney Sugar, John Black, Bailey Everhart and Jamie Briscoe. Matt Power photo.
Matt Power

The Buddy Program presented a masquerade party for its 23rd annual Bash for the Buddies on July 8 at Gail and Lenny “Boogie” Weinglass’ Merry-Go-Ranch on McLain Flats.

The festive fundraiser served as a celebration of the Buddy Program’s mission to empower youth through mentoring experiences to achieve their full potential. The Bash is an essential fundraising event for the organization, raising more than half of its annual operating expenses, which support 500-plus youth, families and adult volunteers.

Boogie has been an integral part of the Buddy Program since 1987, when he opened Boogie’s Diner in Aspen and became the sponsor of an annual 5-mile race benefiting the non-profit, which started and ended in front of his beloved restaurant. Beyond supporting the Fourth of July footrace, Boogie wanted to do more with his philanthropic muscle and began hosting a Buddy Program benefit at his ranch starting in 1999. He has continued it on many occasions over the years. Thanks in large part to Boogie’s generosity, both The Bash for the Buddies and Boogie’s Buddy Race have raised millions of dollars to help support the mentoring of youth in the Roaring Fork Valley. 

For this summer’s event, the evening began with a “Taste of Aspen,” as guests enjoyed appetizers and drinks generously provided by some of Aspen’s best chefs and mixologists, paired with uplifting brass sounds from Aspen Music Festival and School students. A Cajun dinner followed, with a brief presentation offering personal insight into the powerful work the Buddy Program does. Mentors, youth and families shared stories of appreciation about the positive impacts that can come from strong and encouraging mentoring relationships. The evening proceeded with a paddle raise led by John Sarpa, which raised an impressive $450,000. And in traditional New Orleans’ style, a performance by Big Sam’s Funky Nation brought everyone to their feet, as the perfect nightcap.

Learn more about the Buddy Program online at

Lupita with Kim Baillargeon. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Gabrielle Greeves, Cody Cox, Rickey Lamitie and Taylor Barone. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Bo, Boogie and Skye Weinglass. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Andrea Bryan. Morgan Warth, Natalia Taylor and Alexandra Aswad. Tamara Susa photo.
Big Sam’s Funky Nation of New Orleans takes the stage. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Big buddy Seth Beers and little buddy Albert. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Aspen Music Festival and School students. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Little buddies Maritza F. and Angelie S. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Little buddy Evie C. and big buddy Jaila Jafarabadi Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
Honorees Mike and Becky Murray with Lindsay Lofaro, executive director of the Buddy Program. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
A wonderful evening of Mardi Gras in the Mountains. Tamara Susa photo.
Tamara Susa
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