Winter Carnival 2017: Lon and Eileen Allen named grand marshals
February 5, 2017
Steamboat Springs — Not unlike most who have been named grand marshals of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival Diamond Hitch Parade, Lon and Eileen Allen said they were surprised and honored at the news they would be leading this year's incarnation of the event.
The 104th annual Winter Carnival will be held Feb. 8 to 12.
"We were very honored and surprised," Lon said.
Eileen agreed, but qualified, "You never know who they're going to pick, and it's always a surprise to the person who does get picked."
But to those familiar with the Allens and their dedication to local volunteerism — both with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which selects the parade grand marshals, and in the community, at large — their selection might not seem so surprising after all.
“Lon and Eileen are longtime supporters of the club,” said Jim Boyne, executive director of the Winter Sports Club. “Lon has been a continual volunteer with the club, and he’s really gone above and beyond. We couldn’t do the things we do without him. Eileen was instrumental in organizing the first Sorel Soiree, and their children both came up through the club.”
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But Boyne added the Allens’ involvement goes beyond their dedication to SSWSC.
“They’re good, community folks, and that’s what we’re looking for in our grand marshals,” Boyne said. “Of course, we want people with ties to the Winter Sports Club, but we’re also looking for community involvement, and Lon and Eileen certainly fit the bill.”
Lon, a native of Steamboat, spent 33 years as a member of the Ski Patrol at Steamboat Ski Area, in addition to his day-to-day work with Routt County Landscaping — which he co-founded and co-owned with two partners — and Lawn Irrigation, which he owned.
Eileen, meanwhile enjoyed a 25-year career as a financial consultant and certified financial planner with Wells Fargo Advisors. She met Lon while skiing in Steamboat.
"Yeah, she was a catch," Lon quipped. "She was enamored by skiing."
"Still am," Eileen added.
Both are now retired from their day jobs but remain committed to giving back to the community they love, undoubtedly a big part of why they were chosen to lead this year's parade.
Lon worked with SSWSC as a start referee for 15 years, officiating some 400 events.
Eileen was also involved with SSWSC, serving eight years as chief of race for the Steamboat Cups Series and on the committee for the six Alpine Junior Olympics the club hosted.
"So, Lon did the official job, but it takes another 30 people to put on the races," Eileen said. "They're all volunteers … so we all helped for a lot of years doing that."
Most recently, Eileen has become involved with the SSWSC Alumni Club, which was instrumental in establishing the Sorel Soiree, another Winter Carnival mainstay, which, this year, is set for Friday, Feb. 10.
She also coached soccer for eight years and served as a Cub Scout leader.
Lon remains involved with the Knights of Columbus, which will host its annual pancake breakfast at Winter Carnival.
Both are also active members of Holy Name Catholic Church, where Lon helped with the church's recently completed stained glass window project, and Eileen is currently involved with a stewardship project.
But what is most striking about the Allens’ numerous contributions to the Steamboat community — and specifically, to SSWSC — is the reason they have been, and remain, so eager to give back.
"The reason I volunteer is because … you get so interested in the kids and their progress and just being involved with the community the Winter Sports Club creates around the kids and around Howelsen Hill," Lon said.
Eileen agreed, adding that their reasons for being involved are not very different from those expressed by other parents and volunteers.
"I know with the different committees I've been on with Winter Sports Club, there isn't a person at those meetings … that doesn't say they do it because they want every kid to be able to ski," she said. "… When you live in a world famous ski resort, every kid ought to know how to ski."
And even for kids who will never win places on the U.S. Ski Team or in the Olympic Games, the value of the club is apparent.
"You watch the kid that wins wait to see the kid that almost started last and shake his hand," Eileen said. "That kind of sportsmanship … is really a pretty cool thing to see."
Lon added another valuable piece is the support the community has for Howelsen Hill.
"I know it's an expense for the city, but I really think that it is one of the most incredible city parks anywhere, and the value to the community is way more than a lot of people can imagine," Lon said. "… Basically, it's the facility that allows the Winter Sports Club to continue to exist. I think it's invaluable to the community."
"We support it with our time and our money, our energy, our thoughts," Eileen added. "We support it on every single level."
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