Sean Beckwith: Summer slog deserves a season-ending soiree
September 4, 2018
The rigmarole on summer in Aspen is it's no longer the second season to winter; it's busy enough to garner full staff and the necessary allotment of stress. Judging by the past two weekends in Snowmass — an infestation of sludge-covered Tough Mudder athletes followed by drenched music lovers for JAS Labor Day — that sentiment is probably true. Hot air balloon and wine festivals are still left on Snowmass' plate, including whatever Aspen has going on.
If we're going to treat summer like winter then may I suggest the accompanying end-of-season closing parties? Because muted employee dinners and a slow fizzle while leaf colors pop isn't the send-off summer deserves. Halloween kind of fills the Highlands Closing Day void with inebriated, costume-clad locals roaming the streets like a post-apocalyptic resort wasteland.
However, Aspenites deserve a better brand of closure. There should be a specific event for locals to send off a season "that's on pace to be as chaotic as winter," according to warbling bosses and managers trying to motivate employees everywhere.
So, naturally, being the resident degenerate, I have some thoughts on potential ways to unwind into offseason.
Smuggler Day Parade
On-mountain parties are the perfect way to end ski season because it's the prominent place for recreation during the winter. Taking that into account, along with traditions like the Buckoff on the Ridge of Bell, a parade down Aspen's most popular trail that ends at the Smuggler Park would be ideal. Most residents — including the hiking-averse segment — have hiked Smuggler at least once this year.
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It ticks all the boxes locals love: Exercise, check; excuse to dress up, check; reason for day drinking, check; food and beverage motivation, check. Also, you can drive up and down the trail which makes mini floats a possibility. While I'm taking this extremely seriously, the chances of this happening are very slim. Having said that, I'll treat this like one of my BS'ed-enough-to-pass college papers.
Large cars/floats won't work because you want people to attend and big vehicles make lining the route impossible. Ah, but now there's finally a reason for the high-end golf carts that invade city streets during summer. Whether we can convince second-home owners to let locals decorate their miniature Humvees and rip them up and down Smuggler Road is one thing, temporarily borrowing — not stealing — them and returning them as you stole them is another (more felonious) thing. Mostly I just want to joyride a Downtowner.
Little Nell Cheese Race
This combines idiots' willingness to risk bodily harm (like skiing), appropriating European traditions (like Schneetag at Aspen Highlands) and the Little Nell ski run. If you're unfamiliar with Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake, it's a tradition in England where a bunch of hooligans chase a wheel of cheese down a hill, inevitably ending in broken bones, internal bleeding and one battered champion.
Of all my suggestions, this is the least likely to happen due to insurance concerns but it is by far the most entertaining option. If Snowmass can gather enough people to slog through mud and electrocute themselves, then I have hope that there are people willing to risk pricey medical bills for cheese-chasing thrills. If not, though, there is another means of motivation. A chunk of gouda may not be enough incentive to chance serious injury but if you put a ski pass or, better yet, a winning affordable-housing lottery ticket in a ball and send that down Little Nell, then you'll have locals lining up from Spar Gulch to the starting line.
Food & Wine-down
This is pretty self-explanatory: Take the leftover alcohol from Food & Wine, of which there is plenty, save it, bust it out at a city park in September and voila, you have yourself a mostly prefunded party. I got the idea from my time at the Little Nell when they would essentially do this exact thing for their employees.
In my fantasyland, there's a field of pork-filled smokers and The Black Keys. In delusion world, fantasyland's less desirable cousin, the event plays out like a self-sustained picnic with discounted booze and maybe LP Herd banging out some blues. In reality, some friends grab Coors Lights, a grocery cart full of Lunchables, a bluetooth speaker and meet at a soon-to-be-vacant Club Commons apartment.
Regardless, the season deserves its own blowout where hardworking laborers can reconnect with over-worked, service-industry smothered friends and make those bad decisions that have been simmering since the summer started. Cheers to another work semester in the books and enjoy offseason.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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