Plans change for Thompson blast

Naomi Havlen

Funeral service plans for author and Woody Creek resident Hunter Thompson changed on Wednesday. The event that includes blasting the author’s ashes out of a cannon in August will be entirely private.One of the service’s planners on Tuesday said the service would be shown via closed-circuit TV feed to crowds of fans at Buttermilk, but Thompson’s family disagreed with that idea.”It was one of our brainstorms, not a plan,” said George Stranahan on Wednesday evening. “The funeral will be very private, and by invitation only in respect to Hunter, his family and his friends.”Professional event planners from Los Angeles have been in the Roaring Fork Valley for a few weeks to help the family organize a funeral for Aug. 20 – exactly six months after Thompson killed himself with a bullet to the head.Stranahan, a Woody Creek resident and friend of Thompson’s, said the funeral will take place at Thompson’s Owl Farm ranch.”We’re taking this one step at a time, and we want this to be a private affair,” he said. “The idea [about Buttermilk] ran up the flagpole and the family said no.”Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, also a longtime friend of Thompson’s, said he spoke with the author’s son, Juan, on Wednesday evening.”A live feed to a Jumbotron at Buttermilk was against his desires,” Braudis said. “We’re asking fans not to even come to the funeral – it will be well-secured. No one will be able to crash what will be an intimate, private event.” Braudis is also helping with the security aspects of the preparations. Plans are still in the works for some sort of public celebration of Thompson’s life, he said, and as plans crystallize, a public information person will help inform interested fans.The private event will probably involve between 300 and 500 people, he said, and is being treated as a special event by getting the necessary approvals from the Woody Creek Caucus, the county’s planning department and the Pitkin County commissioners.The service still involves plans for a temporary structure, perhaps including Thompson’s gonzo symbol of a fist clutching a peyote button. And as he wished, Thompson’s remains will still be blasted out of a cannon onto his Woody Creek property.Security, Braudis said, will include private companies and use of some Pitkin County deputies. There will be traffic control and barricades, and invitees will be shuttled to the ranch.”We know we’ve changed horses mid-stream,” Braudis said. “But after a lot of deliberation, Hunter was a true friend and we want to make sure what we do is done with the utmost professionalism and courtesy.””Our only message to the loyal, Hunter-loving fans is that somewhere, at some time you’ll get a chance to pay tribute to Hunter Thompson,” Braudis said. “It’s still a work in progress.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is