Snowmass Village marks 33 years of Mardi Gras festivities |

Snowmass Village marks 33 years of Mardi Gras festivities

Staff report
Susie McNamara and Houston Cowan reigned as the king and queen of last year's Mardi Gras festivities in Snowmass Village. The celebration is Feb. 17 this year, complete with the traditional uphill race, bead toss and parade.
Aubree Dallas/Snowmass Sun |

Snowmass will celebrate 33 years of Mardi Gras revelry Feb. 17 with its Fat Tuesday celebration, one of the biggest festivals of the season and one of the oldest Mardi Gras parties in the mountains.

This year the celebration will include a live concert by the Stooges Brass Band, a New Orleans contemporary jazz and hip-hop band, at 5 p.m., with free fireworks to follow at 7 p.m. The celebration also includes free traditional Mardi Gras elements such as a costumed parade, a bead throw where nearly 30,000 beads are thrown into the crowds, hurricane drink specials and late-night celebrations at bars and restaurants. All events are free.

Fat Tuesday’s festivities kick off at 7 a.m. with the 23rd annual Mother of All Ascensions, an uphill costumed race that climbs 2,073 vertical feet from Base Village to Gwyn’s High Alpine Restaurant. Participants can use snowshoes, track skis, hiking boots or running shoes. Costumes are highly encouraged, and prizes are awarded for the crowd’s favorites. Applications may be picked up and dropped off at Base Camp Bar & Grill in Snowmass Village, the Ute Mountaineer in Aspen, Bristlecone Mountain Sports in Basalt, Independence Run & Hike in Carbondale and Summit Canyon Mountaineering in Glenwood Springs. Pre-race entry fee is $30. Day-of registration begins at 5:45 a.m. at Base Camp Bar & Grill, with the race starting at the bottom of Fanny Hill at 7 a.m. Race-day registration is $40. Prizes will be raffled off at the awards ceremony. For more information or to volunteer for the race, call 250-266-0022 or email

The official Mardi Gras celebration begins with a free kids’ carnival from 3 to 7 p.m., including clowns, stilt walkers and face painters. The annual bead throw starts at 3 p.m. on the Snowmass Mall. The parade follows at 4 p.m., packing the mall with wall-to-wall revelers, floats featuring the Mardi Gras king and queen, and mountain jesters.

This year’s king and queen of Mardi Gras are Eric Rystedt, assistant property manager for Snowmass Hospitality, and Michelle Bates, banking officer for Alpine Bank in Snowmass Village. Rystedt is originally from Grafton, North Dakota, and lived in Vail and Steamboat Springs before moving to Snowmass 10 years ago. He worked at the Silvertree Hotel when he first moved to Snowmass and has been with Snowmass Hospitality since 2009.

Bates was born and raised in Glenwood Springs and has lived in Snowmass Village since 2007. She has worked for Alpine Bank for 21 years. She volunteers for the Snowmass Art Advisory Board, the Daly Townhomes Board, the Snowmass Liquor Licensing Board, the Frying Pan Cleanup, the Aspen School District and the Snowmass Rodeo.

Members of the public can enter floats in the parade. Snowmass offers cash prizes for best float ($400), best use of theme, SnowMardi Party ($200) and best costume ($150). The float entry is free, and Snowmass Tourism provides $100 reimbursement toward float expenses (receipts required). To download an application for the parade, go to and click on “Mardi Gras Parade Float Application” or stop by the Snowmass Tourism Office on the second floor in Town Hall.

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