Tony Vagneur: Aspen’s holiday time for kids, adults to enjoy getting tricked out |

Tony Vagneur: Aspen’s holiday time for kids, adults to enjoy getting tricked out

Tony Vagneur
Saddle Sore

Today’s the 31st, the big one with a full moon. Halloween is rumored to be one of, if not the biggest, holidays celebrated in Aspen. Can’t say anymore, really, as I haven’t checked it out lately, but I’m sure there are those plenty excited about it all. It’ll no doubt be kind of a drag with the coronavirus lingering on the scene, but people like to wear masks on Halloween, anyway.

My grandkids are excited about it, and good for them. They get to be characters of their dreams and be somebody else for a night. The innocence and the enthusiasm of it all is great to witness. No doubt, I did that as a kid, but I cannot honestly remember any particular character I wanted to emulate. Not to mention the pumpkin carving, expertly aided by their father and mother. Beautiful job, guys. Good for them.

Around third grade, maybe, we made little boxes out of used lunch milk cartons with a slit on top. Then we wrapped a sign around the carton, saying UNESCO. Along with getting a couple pieces of candy, we also were looking for spare change to help the rest of the world promote peace and literacy. We were actually quite successful in that regard, milk cartons heavily laden with nickels and dimes being brought to school and counted out on the day following the celebration.

When my daughter was little, maybe 6 or 7, she bemoaned the fact that trick-or-treaters never came to our house, which was rather dark and stood back about 50 yards from the road out front. I mean, not one costumed freak ever knocked on our door. After a couple of years, we carved a nice pumpkin, placed a big candle inside it, and nailed it to the gate post at the end of our driveway. It was to be an enticement for kids to come visit. As we admired our work from inside the house, some jackass riding in the back of a pickup truck came by and smashed the pumpkin to smithereens with a ball bat. We gave up.

Speaking of costumes, my fellow history ambassador with Aspen Skiing Co., Dan Sadowsky, made the cogent remark, and I’m paraphrasing, that we are in costume all the time. Think about it. Personalities tend to dress on the outside as well as the inside. Often, we recognize someone from a distance by the hat they wear, or the way they walk, or how many damned years have they had that same jacket? Do you always wear Levi’s or khakis? A guy I know loves Hawaiian shirts. In the new world of masks, we still recognize our friends.

As an aside, but a pertinent one, from the top of Ruthie’s you can generally tell who’s skiing the Face by the inadvertent style employed. You can take umpteen private lessons, ski 100 days a year, but at some point, you settle into your style and all your friends can recognize you simply by glimpsing you on the mountain. Think Stein Eriksen or Sepp Uhl.

Most of what I remember about Halloween as a youngster is trying to be a hellraiser, emboldening the “trick” part of the equation. We soaped windows, TP’d houses, stuck auto horns, moved cars around the block (nobody used to lock their cars), but as I recall, we never did any damage to property. Maybe that’s why the adults tolerated us. There was the morning we arrived at school to witness a horse-drawn carriage on the roof of the Red Brick School gymnasium. Top that.

Fortune has smiled on me, I reckon. I’ve been to Halloween parties in private homes, several at the Redstone Castle, a great one in the Redstone Castle horse barn, a couple at the Hotel Jerome, but the gummiest one may have been at the old Aspen Inn Club.

Watching (or trying to watch) Buck Deane onstage with the Buckin’ Strings, encased inside a huge cardboard box with guitar and microphone, I had a great seat at the bar. It was announced that Buck was sick and the person inside the box was a very shy stand-in. It worked for a short while, but no one can yodel like Buck.

My visage was hidden behind a Hollywood-style full-head mask, I had on a tie and vest, and had a couple of ladies buying me schnapps and beer, curious as to who I might be. The schnapps didn’t always get completely past my mask and before I was aware, it dribbled down my chin a bit, wetting the tie and lubricating the inside of the mask. It didn’t seem to bother me at the time, but in introspect, that was one of the stickiest situations I recall from a Halloween celebration. Or so.

Have fun, adults, and let those costumed libidos fly. This is your night.

Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at