Marolt: We are the carnies in a show that doesn’t travel |

Marolt: We are the carnies in a show that doesn’t travel

Roger Marolt

I have an oversized schnoz. I’m used to the protrusion on my face that I don’t even have to look cross-eyed at to see. It’s second nature for me to ignore it, yet I become aware of it at times, like when I am involved in an argument that becomes heated. Likewise, I am careful not to make easy bets with sports fans who have been drinking. The snot locker is more than a target; to the enraged or inebriated it appears a carnival ticket for a chance to throw the mallet down hard enough to ring the bell. A big nose encourages one to become a lover, not a fighter.

If Snowmass was a human, we would see it has a big nose, too. Aspen would be the aloof movie star with perfect features. I would like to punch Aspen, but I am afraid its square jaw would shatter my knuckles and I would be lucky to escape with only watery eyes and another obtuse angle in the bridge.

Our amenities don’t fit the size of our town. Most of them are too big to appear natural. We look a bit freakish. It leaves an observer wondering if we aren’t under the influence of PEDs (Performance Enhancing Developments).

Considering Aspen Mountain being a perfectly sized ski mountain for a population of around 6,000 residents and Snowmass Mountain being on scale with a small metropolis, I look at the Viceroy Hotel and think that it could house most of the village’s residents. Aspen, a natural town, of sorts, at least by resort standards, has no hotels of that proportion.

Aspen’s grocery stores, while bursting at the seams in high season, are busy enough in the offseasons to justify their existence. In the village’s market, at just about any given time in October you could stage a competitive tug of war between its employees on the clock and its customers pushing carts through the aisles.

On top of a new Base Village that will serve as a Big Top, we now have The Lost Forest amusement park, which I am nearly certain is way too big to keep open in the offseason for locals. For crying out loud, or at least having to call in for service, it doesn’t even make sense to operate our expansive free shuttle bus system on a normal schedule throughout the quiet months. Even at the Thursday night sumer concerts and Wednesday evening rodeos, locals are rarer than elk along Owl Creek Road.

Offseasons in Aspen are great because you see lots of other locals. In Snowmass Village, we don’t see much of anyone.

Aspen has built an infrastructure for the locals and the tourists gladly join them, while we in Snowmass built everything to entertain visitors. We residents are like the carnies in a show that doesn’t travel because we don’t have a hitch for the flatbed that can carry the elephants.

During the months when visitors go home for a break and our town reveals itself for what it is, all of our amenities together look like a pair of baggy jeans on a marathon runner.

If you look at the village’s treasures, you will see stuff that fits, but you will have to make a half day’s journey connecting the dots from Il Pogio to Taster’s to the post office down to the rec center and back up through the bowling alley to get any kind of a feel for how passionately the heart of this place beats beneath that layers of fat built up to get us through the winters.

I don’t want anyone to think this observation is a complaint. In case anybody wonders, I like this place. I like to imagine it and I share a genetic trait. Nonetheless, I have to believe that deep down, all of us see that we have a weird little town and difficulty pinpointing the reasons why it is so.

Like getting used to only seeing the fronts of our faces in the mirror and exclaiming, “Wow, does my head really look like a boiled egg on popsicle stick?” when we see a candid shot of ourselves in profile, talking about why this place feels stranger to us than our visitors is a worthwhile, if not slightly painful, exercise in humility.

Damn the Ski Magazine polls that say we are great. I am thrilled the rest of the world sees us that way. Still, I think I might feel more comfortable wearing a hat and sunglasses.

Roger Marolt hopes the fresh coat of paint is dry when the carnival lights are switched back on in December. Email at

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