On the course: Not just another work day | AspenTimes.com

On the course: Not just another work day

ASPEN – As an employee of Red Mountain Grill, the grub provider at the community picnic held Sunday, I wasn’t brought out by the miniature golf, kite flying and bounce houses. Instead, it was work, which was only slightly less alluring.

The grill provided burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers, coleslaw, watermelon and cookies for all 1,000 people in attendance.

Preparations began Saturday, and my greedy hand was shooed away from the still-warm cookies more than once. I shouldn’t complain; I managed to nab one without getting caught.

Once the festivities got under way, families poured into the Aspen Golf Club through greener means of transportation: a shuttle, the bus, and biking and walking to the event.

For most of the picnic, I was stuck serving burgers and hot dogs in the assembly line compiled of employees and volunteers, but familiar faces flowed down the line, eager to fill their bellies with the food sponsored by the city of Aspen. In fact, everything from kids’ activities to free golf lessons were provided by the city, despite an almost $10,000 budget cut from 2008.

With kids fishing in the pond and playing miniature golf, it is hard to imagine what was cut in the budget. The 2008 picnic budget was nearly $23,000, while this year’s was only around $13,000, the city’s community relations officer, Sally Spaulding, told me. She said the bulk of the savings came from eliminating the rental of a large tent and scaling back chair and table rentals. Decreased menu options also accounted for a small portion of the savings.

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As the picnic wound down and stomachs were filled, I got the opportunity to roam the golf course, a place I’m used to only gazing at from the restaurant balcony. Frisbees and kites soared through the air along with the upbeat music from the DJ.

New this year was the “Mowdown Pollution” race, in which push mowers were raced to the finish line on the golf course driving range. Rachel Richards, Carolyn Sackariason and Jack Simmons were the first-place winners of the three races.

Even with a significantly smaller budget, the community picnic succeeded at bringing the community out for a family-style event to wrap up the summer.