Snowmass’ 50th Golden Gala expands by demand | AspenTimes.com

Snowmass’ 50th Golden Gala expands by demand

Britta Gustafson
Special to the Snowmass Sun

Editor's note: Snowmass Sun columnist and contributor Britta Gustafson is one of the volunteers helping to organize this event.

Enthusiasm over Snowmass Village 50th celebration's Golden Gala and the premiere of the film, "SNOWMASS: 50 Years of Mountain Spirit" has far exceeded the event organizer's expectations.

Tables for the ticketed event on the evening of Dec. 16, which marks the 50th anniversary of the ski resort, nearly sold out within their first week. An online waitlist started July 16, before many of the mailed invitations reached their recipients.

"We want to be sure that everyone who feels a deep connection to this community knows that their presence at the gala is warmly welcomed," said volunteer event organizer Randy Woods.

Woods, an active member of the Snowmass community who's heading up the Golden Gala, has put countless hours into planning the event in an effort to "bring the community together at least once more" to celebrate its heritage.

Woods has made efforts to address each and every personal request; as a result, more of the $100 tickets have now been made available and the event has expanded to accommodate additional requests.

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"It's going to be a wonderful evening, bringing together five decades of memories, multiple generations and helping to reunite some who have since moved away but have always felt connected to Snowmass Village," Woods said. He also helped produce "The Story of Snowmass" book that archives the history of Snowmass Village. Signed copies of the book will be available at the gala.

"It's exciting to see so much enthusiasm," said Snowmass Tourism Director Rose Abello. The marketing group will accept checks for the gala at Thursday's Fanny Hill concert, Abello said.

To help kick-start the season of celebration, a commemorative community anniversary photo will be taken Thursday during the intermission of the Otis Taylor concert on Fanny Hill (estimated around 7:30 p.m.). All community members are invited to be in the group photo, which will appear in the upcoming issue of the Snowmass Sun's Winter in Snowmass magazine. Photo participants also may promote the era of their connection by color coordinating their attire. For those whose connections began in the 1960's, a black shirt; the 1970's, a white shirt; for the 1980's, a blue shirt; for the 2000's, a red shirt and for the 2010's, a gray shirt is requested. The photo shot will take place, rain or shine.

Ticket sales for the '50th Golden Gala: Celebrating Snowmass' event will extend through August.

"Half a century has now passed, and this is a wonderful opportunity to reunite, share stories and celebrate the enormous success of the whole endeavor," said John Cooley, the first marketing director in Snowmass Village. Cooley arrived in 1965 and saw the ranchlands transform into a mountain resort.

"I'm personally really looking forward to seeing all of the old familiar faces and reminiscing in person," Cooley said, rattling off a long list of names, many of which helped to establish Snowmass Village during the late 1960's, all of whom plan to attend the gala, including Terri Griggs, John McBride, Chuck Vidal, Bob Lowe, Tony Scheer, Bill Reynolds, Norm Clausin, M.J. and Nancy Elisha.

The itinerary for the evening's festivities includes the first formal screening of "SNOWMASS: 50 Years of Mountain Spirit."

The 30-minute film, produced and directed by local filmmaker and Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman, tells the story of how a small mountain valley became a community and highlights many of the local characters who helped shape the town as we know it today.

The genesis of the film project began with "Mountain Spirit: Voices of Snowmass," which premiered in 2007 as part of Snowmass' 40th anniversary celebrations.

"What struck me first when I was asked to produce the 'new' Snowmass film is how quickly the 50th anniversary has arrived," Poschman joked. "The decade since we made the 40th anniversary film blew by, and while we all still love hearing the stories from the first 40 (years), another generation of Snowmass people have come up with their own worthy tales to tell."

Those involved in the project all agreed that a much longer film could have easily been produced. "We shot hours of new interviews with a dozen or more familiar faces," Poschman said, "and we realized that it was too important a subject to all of us to take lightly."

The extra effort and weeks of editing is visible in the 50th film, Poschman said, crediting his team.

"The talented Carol Breen, former snowboard instructor at Snowmass, was our editor who went the extra mile. Skico contributed photography from their library, the newest of which was created and contributed by Matt Hobbes of Vital films," Poschman explained. He said it also included archival imagery from old Aspen and Snowmass folk and from the Aspen Historical Society: Hunt Walker contributed super 8 ski movies from the 1970s; Dick Durrance shot the early Snowmass promo films; Bobbie Burkley was our production coordinator and Snowmass Marketing also contributed. The interview photographers were Alan Becker and Edgar Boyles, he added.

Burkley, who moved to Snowmass in 1991, said the film was a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends from that era. "Working with Greg, organizing interviews and logistics," Burkley said, "brought back so many amazing Snowmass memories."

"Our first interview was with one of the earliest visitors, Charlene Madden, who has come here for the entire 50 years with her large and growing Chicago family," Poschman said. "Her brief segment in the film reveals her love of life and how Snowmass has played a key part in her expression of that love."

Short and sweet, the film allows villagers to speak in their own words of how Snowmass "arrived" as a warm and connected community decades ago.

Poschman only laments having had to edit down the interviews. "It is so good to delve into the personal anecdotes of those who spend significant parts of their lives here and contribute to the fabric of the community in their own unique ways," Poschman said, "and it would have been so good to have had more time with all of them."

As in the film, Poschman encourages Snowmass Village residents and visitors to continue sharing their stories of Snowmass during this 50th anniversary season as a way of remembering "who we are as we chart our course" for the next 50 years.

Now, in 2017, with stalled development projects finally underway and an evolving population, this celebratory season may offer the community an opportunity to reconnect at this pivotal time in Snowmass history.

"It will be important that Snowmass gets it right and continues to value the fragile natural beauty, the open space, the co-existence with wildlife and the community of characters who all make this small town unique from every other ski resort," Poschman said.

Similarly, Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler encourages the community to embrace change as it moves forward while warning against loosing sight of what makes Snowmass unique.

"The fun part of our community is just that," she said, "the fact that we are, and always have been, evolving."

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