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Power outage hits downtown

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

What happens when the power goes out in downtown Aspen on a somnolent off-season evening?

Life continues at its already languid pace. It’s difficult to shut the town down when most of the populace has left town.

“At least it happened at a good time,” said Beth Harris, general manager of the Isis Theatre.

There were only about two dozen moviegoers in the Isis when the flicks flickered out shortly before 5 p.m. on Monday. They received refunds. When the power outage stretched past 6:30 p.m., the theater canceled its 7 p.m. shows as well, and prepared for the 9 p.m. showings.

An equipment failure at the city electric utility’s switch station next to the post office caused the shutdown. It reportedly affected a chunk of the north side of town, including some of the downtown core.

Carl’s Pharmacy locked its doors, but let a few customers in for emergency purchases, which included dental floss and flashlights. Hotel Jerome staffer Mark Cody came in to assess Carl’s stock of flashlights, just in case the hotel needed to equip each of its guests with one.

The hotel’s emergency generator keeps things like the stairway and exit lights burning, but the rooms can get a little dark, Cody explained.

The J-Bar at the hotel kept serving drinks on a cash-only basis, since the electronic cash registers were out. Anyone looking to use the nearby ATM at Wells Fargo Bank for an infusion of cash, however, was out of luck.

At The Cantina, the kitchen was off-line, but patrons were making do with margaritas, bottled beer, and chips and salsa.

After 90 minutes, the coffee was cold at Zele and barista Matthew O’Neill was poised to hang a “closed” sign on the coffee shop’s door. He was about to tape his note on the glass when the lights came back on, shortly before 6:45 p.m.

The outage didn’t affect all of the core. Establishments on the south side of Hyman Avenue were unaffected; those on the north side were dark. Denizens of Cooper Avenue were oblivious to the outage a block away.


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