VAIL, Colorado - We asked Bob "Vail's Marketing Magician" Parker a simple question: Was hiring the Southern Utes in 1963 to perform a snow dance a publicity stunt, or did you folks think they could actually make it snow?
Parker is 90 years old now, and his eyes twinkle when he's artfully dodging a question, like he did with that one.
"They have powers many of us may not have," Parker said grinning.
By the way, he said, the first Ute Indian snow dance was Vail's second year, 1963, not 1962.
It went like this.
December 1963 was starting out like a carbon copy of 1962, another bad snow year, Parker said. A woman who worked in the Vail Blanche ski shop heard from a friend of a friend that members of the Southern Ute tribe might be available to do a snow dance.
The woman told Blanche Hauserman, "Hey, maybe we could get the Utes to do a snow dance."
Blanche told her husband, Dick Hauserman, another of Vail's originals, "Hey, maybe we could get the Utes to do a snow dance."
Hauserman told Vail founder Pete Seibert, "Hey, maybe we could get the Utes to do a snow dance."
Pete turned to Bob Parker and said, "Hey, maybe you could get the Utes to do a snow dance."
So Bob called Eddie Box, sort of the Southern Ute CEO. When Eddie Box and the Southern Utes wanted to have their annual meeting of the leaders, they just knew when and where to show up. There were no papers or letters or phone calls, Parker said. They just knew.
Describing that is where Parker says, "He may have used some powers we don't have - telepathy," Parker said. "This was the guy I was dealing with."
Parker asked Eddie Box, "Can you do a snow dance?"
Eddie Box said, "We must contact Minnie Cloud of the Cloud Clan."
Minnie Cloud and the Cloud Clan lived in Ignacio. Instead of telepathy, in mid-December 1963, Eddie Box opted for modern technology and called Minnie Cloud on the telephone.
"Can we do a snow dance for this new ski area in Colorado?" Eddie Box asked Minnie Cloud.
Minnie Cloud answered, "We don't do snow dances."
Eddie Box rephrased the question. "Can you do a rain dance and call it a snow dance?"
It's not clear what Minnie Cloud answered, but in mid-December 1963 Minnie Cloud and five other members of the Cloud Clan showed up. In one huge car.
For good measure Minnie Cloud and the Cloud Clan did two snow dances, one behind The Lodge at Vail and another at Mid-Vail, with faith that colder temperatures would turn their rain to snow.
But it didn't snow, at least not right away. Minnie Cloud and the Cloud Clan got in their car and headed back to Ignacio, leaving Vail under bright blue Colorado skies.
Pete Seibert was an excitable fellow and couple days later excitedly asked Parker, "When's it gonna snow?!?"
"I'll call Eddie Box," Parker said.
Having no apparent telepathic powers, Parker picked up the phone and called Eddie Box. "When's it gonna snow?" he asked Eddie.
"I'll call Minnie," Eddie Box answered, and that's what he did, although their means of communication remains an untold mystery.
"I told them before I left it would snow Dec. 18," Minnie Cloud told Eddie Box.
Eddie Box called Parker back and said, "She says it will snow on Dec. 18."
Recalling the story, Parker sits up and smiles. "And Dec. 18 is when it snowed. Two feet."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.