Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
I got to thinking about the old days, which, of course, were distinguished by Friday afternoon high school football in Wagner Park. Some will argue that it was mining, ranching or skiing that defined the town, but since it’s homecoming week at Aspen High School, I’m sticking with football in the center of town, on natural grass, under the sun.
To me it’s happier than associating my contentment here with greedy men digging tunnels beneath the most beautiful mountains on earth on fine spring days, poorer men feeding cattle on subzero winter nights during the Great Depression because there was nothing better to do, or googly-eyed men yutzing around in blousy ski parkas belted at the waist with pleated stretch pants tucked inside their ski boots knowing that they had just discovered the key to eternal happiness – the real estate deal.
Sure, in the core of Aspen we have a church, the courthouse, City Hall and a few day care centers, which nobody will argue if you call them schools, and that will suffice for some library frequenters as evidence that Aspen is small-town enough. Nonetheless, what we are missing is the energy that a mass of local teenagers juiced on naturally occurring organic hormones brings to any outdoor activity that is supervised by all available adults in town. We need to have high school events downtown during homecoming week each year to make this little town legit, and people need to participate in them. History depends on it.
Cutting to the chase, Wagner Park is too small for football. It’s too short for a cross-country race. It’s too outside for girls volleyball. It’s not quiet enough for golf. It’s too soft for decent tennis. But it’s perfect for soccer, since they are not quite as strict on field dimensions!
We need to have a homecoming soccer game in Wagner Park! Play it late Thursday afternoon, head to Mezzaluna afterward for a celebratory dinner, and then on to the Paradise Bakery corner for the traditional pep rally and bonfire! Well, two out of three ain’t bad for now. We’ll have to see if we can schedule the soccer game downtown for next year since the idea for having it in downtown came up too late for this year.
… Which brings me to another point about great ideas happening too late. Aspen is a hat town, right? Well, why don’t more people wear black hats with red “A”s on them? I mean really, all you “Aspenites” wearing faux-faded Boston Red Sox hats; that ship has sailed. That was cool when they were the pitiful losers whom no one could help but love, like hairless, floppy-eared, bean-eating stray dogs. Now that they have two recent World Series rings on their middle fingers, are spending as much on payroll as the Yankees, and have stolen Billy Beane’s recipe of hope for making small-market teams competitive, they aren’t even close to being cool anymore.
At any rate, I’ll tell you why so few of us wear black hats with the hometown “A” on them: It’s because when everyone is thinking about what great, cheap Christmas presents they would make, nobody is selling them. You can’t get them online, you can’t buy them in boutiques, and you can’t even get them at Carl’s Pharmacy.
So, here’s a tip: They sell these hats, along with shirts, jackets and all sorts of other official stuff at AHS home games. And, what’s the easiest way to get into home games? You join the booster club. This prestigious membership can be had for a measly sum of money and a promise by the president, Mary Ryerson, that any hazing of new members, except by her, will not be tolerated. As a member you can go to all AHS home games in every sport all year for free. It works out to about 5 cents per event. And what do you do for dinner once you are there? You eat at the booster club concession stands. The first $20 worth of food is free with your membership!
And, if I tell you that the booster club will shamelessly sell almost anything to raise money for kids sports, it is literally true. To wit: They even sell guest slots on the football chain gang. For whatever you think it’s worth, they’ll let you test-drive “the sticks” for a game. Just bring a check and meet on the visitors’ side of the field before the game. The chain gang then will very carefully choose the guest member based on who showed up first. (Hint: If you want to get a jump on the competition meet the gang at the Hickory House around 5:30: They’ll be the ones in orange vests.)
So, come on: Spend recklessly. Get up to the homecoming games this weekend. Buy a black Aspen hat and a T-shirt. Eat a hot dog. Be on the chain gang. Live like it’s 1975. Join the booster club!
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