Old sköl to unite with new sköl in January festival | AspenTimes.com

Old sköl to unite with new sköl in January festival

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Aspen’s traditional winter festival is getting a revamped image this year, although its older image won’t be forgotten, organizers say.

Wintersköl, the festival that has united locals since 1951 with quirky activities and a parade, will be back this year from Jan. 16-19.

Hana Pevny, Aspen Chamber Resort Association president, said this year is a “transitional” one, evidenced by the slogan “Old sköl, new sköl, Wintersköl.”

“Wintersköl is a community event historically held because of the slow period after the winter holidays,” Pevny said. “Like any resort we have our peaks and valleys.

“We want to deliver community events while at the same time positioning ourselves outside of the community as a destination resort, to bring people into town.”

A small controversy erupted before the 2002 Wintersköl celebration, which almost wasn’t held because the event overlapped with the torch relay coming through Aspen for the Olympics in Salt Lake City. ACRA first decided not to hold the Wintersköl parade in lieu of the torch relay, but after a vocal outcry from community members, a parade was held the weekend before the torch ceremony.

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Pevny said last year’s Wintersköl events are not a good comparison with those on tap for 2003, since the Olympic torch relay had never passed through Aspen before.

Although some in the community have said the Wintersköl spirit has been fading one year at a time ? and Pevny said in the past she’s seen less participation in the events than she has anticipated ? this year’s celebration plans to revamp the old with some new ideas.

“We’ve got some new exciting things, although we’re keeping the traditional elements like the parade, the fireworks, Wintersculpt, the world’s fair and the canine fashion show,” Pevny said. “We’re trying to balance daytime events with nighttime activities.”

Taj Mahal will play at the Wheeler Opera House on Thursday, Jan. 16, and the following Saturday, a free performance of “Gong Sköl,” the Wheeler’s own version of a local talent show, will be held.

Along with the traditional Wintersköl buttons sold by ACRA for $1 that offer discounts around town, ACRA will sell a $5 nighttime button that will be specific to discounts between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m.

“Gongsköl will be a show for locals and their talents that really emphasizes bringing back the quirky elements of Wintersköl,” said Jennifer Albright, ACRA’s special events director.

Wintersköl also traditionally features days at Aspen Highlands, in Aspen, and in Snowmass over the course of the weekend. 2003 will be no different, with the exception of a wider number of activities put on by a wider variety of community members.

Several businesses at Aspen Highlands, for example, are featuring a full day of events from a sopapilla eat-off at Iguana’s to the Worldlink Cafe’s Lug ?n? Skull Team Relay, an “adult beverage” team relay. The Snowmass lift operators will participate in a snow-sculpture contest, and Ink! Coffee will put on the annual fireworks extravaganza Saturday evening, Jan. 18.

After American Express withdrew its sponsorship of the fireworks 10 months ago, Ink! stepped forward, and Pevny said the chamber is still looking for national sponsors to help local events prosper.

“For the last few years the event has been kept as it is, and we’re hoping that it can grow bigger,” she said.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]

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