Steamboat Springs The numbers are in: Despite reports to the contrary, six out of 10 Steamboat children would rather be tube jumpers than ski jumpers.
Kenyon Brenner, 13, is not one of those children.
"You can get bigger air ski jumping," he said, walking away unscathed and smiling from his ride down the slick slope of Howelsen's beginner hill.
Brenner was one of the hundreds of young people and not-so-young people who flew squealing down the hills at Howelsen Hill Park Thursday night during the city's 24th annual holiday party.
"That was the fastest we've ever had," Ski and Rodeo Director Jeff Nelson said of the groomed bunny hill, one of two hills open for tubers Thursday. The other hill was less steep and accommodated the smallest tubers, with adults perched at the end of the run holding foam pads to catch and divert them.
Blue Sky West provided tubes for those who did not bring their own flotation devices.
Though Howelsen's hills are currently open only one night every year for tubing, the Steamboat Ski Area offers tubing runs at night during the ski season.
Nelson feels ski jumping will remain Steam-
boat's premier activity as long as tubing is a purely amateur, non-Olympic pursuit.
"It's Ski Town USA, not tubing town USA," he said. "If we could make this an Olympic sport, we would have eight lanes up here."
One youngster actually began to make his way up the landing hill of the K114 ski jump where next weekend the greatest ski jumpers in the world will land presumably to ride the hill down, before he was called back.
Though tubing may have been the most popular attraction at the party, it wasn't the only one.
Carolers from the Euzoa Bible Church entertained a crowd inside Olympian Hall, where they also provided hot cider, cookies and hot chocolate. Elves from We're not Clowns juggled for the children and Santa Claus held his own with the kids in the back of the room.
At 7 p.m., on Parks and Recreation Director Chris Wilson's cue, the colorful lights of the Christmas tree on Fetcher Tower blinked on.
Christina Freeman, sports director for the parks and recreation department, said the event was "a great way to kick off the festive holiday season."