Torchlight parade, fireworks to warm New Year’s Eve in Steamboat
December 31, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Just after dusk today, about 100 Steamboat Ski & Snowboard School instructors will line up at the top of the See Me run, holding glowing red roadside flares above their heads.
Temperatures are forecast to dip below zero tonight, but the run will be freshly groomed, and thousands of faces will be turned toward the hill at 7 p.m. to watch the group's descent.
The annual New Year's Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks is a tradition honored by the ski instructors involved and revered by those watching from the base area, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said.
"All the guests see is a big red snake," Kasten said. "It's really cool to see. When they get to the base area, there's a huge fireworks display."
Steamboat Ski & Snowboard School Director Nelson Wingard said the event is an opportunity for some of the 500 Steamboat Ski Area instructors to bond and provide entertainment for the community.
"When you look around the town, everybody's been a ski instructor," Wingard said. "One of the nicest things here is the school is a little smaller than some of the huge Colorado schools. It has a more family-like feel to it."
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Wingard said his evening would consist of lining up his group and making sure he keeps a conservative pace that still appeases the snowboarders and skiers who like to go fast.
When they get to the bottom, the parade ends with a bow to the crowd.
"I love when we're skiing down, and there's people all over the place, and they're happy and excited," Wingard said. "There's a really positive energy in the base area. We get thousands of people, and they're hooting and hollering. We're not doing anything particularly fancy, but they just love it, and it's nice to be appreciated."
Wingard said one of the best viewing areas is downtown Steamboat, but those at the base area will be treated to entertainment by local fire dancers.
The fireworks, which can be seen from almost anywhere in town, last about 10 minutes and are put on by an independent contractor that likes to shoot off at least one booming 11.5-inch shell during the display, Wingard said.
Kasten said the event is an unusual way to celebrate the holiday.
"A lot of guests from out of town enjoy seeing it because it's not something they get to see a lot," Kasten said. "They hear about it, but to see it is exciting.
"Local Steamboat people love to watch it, as well. It's fun to have that pride in something our resort puts on."
Wingard certainly takes pride in the event, especially as he leads the parade down the trail toward the crowd of onlookers.
"It's fun, and it's pretty," Wingard said. "And it's neat to watch fire and ice get together."
— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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