Hinman Park Thursday evening might have been more reminiscent of hot chocolate weather, but it didn't deter 800 people from digging in to a dessert more suited to hot summer days.
Several Steamboat Springs residents organized an ice cream social to show their appreciation to the men and women assigned to the Mount Zirkel Complex fires. They began scooping ice cream at about 6 p.m. and continued until the last firefighters trickled into fire camp.
Firefighters and support crews ignored the drop in temperature and filled up on chocolate chip cookie dough, moose tracks and chocolate chip ice cream. About 30 three-gallon barrels were scooped clean by late evening.
Bob Stein, who helped to organize the ice cream social, hopes the event encourages more people to say thanks to the fire crews.
"It's never too cold for ice cream," he said.
Vonda Russell, part of the team that supports the firefighters, would agree.
She was bundled in fleece and mittens and trying unsuccessfully to stay warm.
Russell lives and works in the Southwest, where nights are not so cold, she said.
But the elements weren't enough to deter her from her favorite frosty dessert.
Ice cream is a rare commodity in fire camp, and Russell wasn't about to miss out.
Bruce Beresford saw the irony in his situation.
Beresford, a field observer from Boulder, shivered as he stood next to one of the many propane heat tanks stationed around the camp.
He had to try the ice cream, he said.
Gary Thrash of Durango and Tim Strom of Tennessee were hunched over the same propane heater, holding their own bowls of Oreo cookie ice cream.
"I was saying how nutty this was to be freezing to death and eating ice cream," Beresford said.
But the men didn't seem to mind.
"It's good," Thrash said.
Some crews headed straight for the ice cream when they got off the bus.
Dinner could wait until later, said Randy Globerman, a member of the Type I Incident Management Team in charge of the fire.
Billy Proffitt and Nick Vines of Tennessee had the same idea in mind.
The two firefighters made a beeline for dessert after work.
Eyeing the selection before him, Proffitt offered a thoughtful reason for eating the dessert despite the cold weather.
"I dig it," he said.