The excitement of an inner tube ride turns out to be too much for 3-year-old Logan Truelove on Sunday afternoon at Saddleback Ranch's Cowboy Christmas celebration. Logan, who rode the tube with his mom, Yvonne, said he had a much better time riding on the sleigh ride. He liked it so much, he took three trips.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

The excitement of an inner tube ride turns out to be too much for 3-year-old Logan Truelove on Sunday afternoon at Saddleback Ranch's Cowboy Christmas celebration. Logan, who rode the tube with his mom, Yvonne, said he had a much better time riding on the sleigh ride. He liked it so much, he took three trips.

Saddleback Ranch celebrates a Cowboy Christmas

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Lines of eager participants wait in line to take their tubes to the top of the tubing hill Sunday at Saddleback Ranch. Meanwhile, a bag of toys is too full for one stuffed giraffe, a part of the Prudential Steamboat Realty toy drive to collect gifts to take to the Denver Children's Hospital. Toy donations can be dropped off at the Prudential office in Wildhorse Marketplace through Wednesday night.

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Sophia Vertees, 3, rides a tube with her mother, Jules Vertrees, down the Saddleback Ranch tubing hill Sunday afternoon as a part of the ranch's annual Cowboy Christmas celebration. The event, which featured horse-drawn sleigh rides, massive longhorn cattle and the tubing, helped raise toys for the Prudential Steamboat Realty toy drive.

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Kelda Wall hangs tight to her daughter, 4-year-old Cassidy, on Sunday as they are pulled along in their inner tube to the top of the tubing hill at Saddleback Ranch near Steamboat Springs.

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— The snow came just in time for the Saddleback Ranch's fifth annual Cowboy Christmas. A dump of snow Saturday night meant that about 400 people were able to tube and ride a horse-drawn sleigh around the Iacovetto family ranch outside Steamboat Springs.

It also meant that more than a truckload of toys were collected for Mickey's Fund, a toy drive started by Moose Barrows for children in hospitals.

Even so, Barrows said the attendance at this year's event was lower than last year's, which was the first time toys were collected.

"It's down a little bit because of the snow, because of the cold, because of the Broncos and because of the powder," he said.

Jerad Iocovetto said the ranch saw about 725 participants at the tubing season kickoff and free day of activities last year.

None of those reasons stopped Joe Brumleve and his 8-year-old grandson, Ben James, from enjoying a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the property.

Laughing as they stepped off the sleigh, Joe asked Ben what he thought of the ride. But Ben was too focused on the tubes he saw awaiting him.

"How was the sleigh ride, Ben?" Brumleve asked as Ben made for the tubes and conveyor belt leading to the top of the hill. "Was it awesome?"

"Awesome," said Ben, as he continued on.

Toys collected during the event will be sent to Denver Children's hospital on Thursday, Barrows said.

Barrows began the fund in memory of his son, Mickey, who spent three years at the hospital with a heart condition. After Mickey's death at age 3, Barrows received money from sympathetic friends and family. He put the money into the Mickey Barrows Memorial Trust and used it to purchase Christmas toys for children at the hospital. The fund continued to grow after the death of Barrows' father, Ray Barrows, who asked that all memorial donations go to the trust.

Mickey's Fund now is organized by Snowpile, a program coordinated each year by the hospital's Therapeutic Recreation Department. Thousands of toys still make their way from the Yampa Valley to Denver every winter. The local collection point is the Prudential Steamboat Realty office in Wildhorse Marketplace.

Laura Cusenbary, director for marketing at Prudential, said the group will accept donations through Wednesday night.

Toys suited for hospitals especially are requested, Cusenbary said. Those may include DVDs, DVD players, stuffed animals or books.

"Things that, if you're getting treatment, are really comforting and entertaining," she said.

Toys should be unwrapped. Cash donations also will be accepted.

- To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208

or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com

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