VAIL — It took weeks to create the Vail Resorts float for the Vail America Days annual Fourth of July parade, but company talent management trainer Bobbi Titter said it’s in the last few days that everything really comes together.
“A lot of the work comes right now,” Titter said Monday, less than three days before the parade. “It’s pretty big to narrow down what Vail has done over 50 years.”
This year’s parade theme is “Vail’s 50th Anniversary Celebration,” and will set the tone for an entire weekend of holiday camaraderie. It starts at Golden Peak at 10 a.m. on Thursday morning and will wind its way through the villages, ending in Lionshead.
The nostalgic theme seems more than appropriate, especially since many of the participating float sponsors are also wrapping up their golden year celebrations.
“Vail Mountain School, like Vail Mountain, was founded in 1962,” said James Mill, the school’s communications director. “We are also celebrating our 50th anniversary and have been all year.”
Ski and Snowboard Club Vail will also be recognizing its record of achievement over the years, developing world-class athletes for half a century.
“This past year was our 50th year, and we are recognizing every decade,” said Euginnia Manseau, the club’s events manager. “For each decade we have chosen a standout athlete.”
Every float will salute this summer with their version of memories, but spectators should pay close attention to the details.
Titter said when planning the float, the Vail Resorts team tried to pull the biggest events from the mountain’s history.
“We looked at the big things that happened and tied them into the float,” she said. “The Lionshead clock tower, China Bowl’s ‘Great Wall of China,’ the signage for Blue Sky Basin, and the Golden Peak bell for ski school classes.”
The resort company has also worked with three different signatures, which will all visible on the front of the float — the original “flying V” Vail logo, as well as the two slogans that have followed: “Vail: There’s no comparison.” and the current “Vail: Like nothing on Earth.”
A highlight, said Titter, will be the “Kristi Kat” replica leading the main float.
“Tours and workers used to use the Kristi Kats as a mode of transportation on the mountain,” she said. “So we fashioned one, which looked a giant bathtub, with some of the old bobsled track pieces from Chaos Canyon, but over an ATV and made tracks to make it look like the original Kristi Kat.”
“Over 90 percent of the material used on this float is either recycled or repurposed,” she added.
Also keep an eye out for the paper evergreen trees made out of recycled trail maps on top of the original gondola cabin on the main float. The hand-cut pieces are to honor the 50 new trees of the recently planted “Founders Forest” — new on Vail Mountain as a nod to the founders of Vail.
Symbol Of History
Vail Mountain School has a reputation to protect for this anniversary parade. Mill said in 1987, on Vail’s 25th year, the school was given an award for best float by former President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty.
“This year, we have created a similar replica of the cabin we had on the float 25 years ago. It’s made from almost entirely recycled materials, and was truly a project around the idea of tinkering and creating,” Mill said. “When VMS was granted land by what was then Vail Associates, one of the conditions was that we had to restore and maintain this historic cabin — the Baldauf building.”
Mill said the cabin, and the float, are a symbol of the connection the school has to the valley and Vail history.
“We are very proud to be celebrating our 50th with the mountains and this shows our connection with it,” he said.
The mountain school float will be giving out some fun items at the parade, Mill said, including glow-in-the-dark Frisbees, anniversary T-shirts, and of course, candy.
“We are just thrilled to be in the parade,” he expressed. “We are among the oldest organizations in the valley, and it’s always just a really fun experience.”
Dedication By The Decade
The Ski and Snowboard Club Vail parade float is a decade reflection that will honor six athletes, all of which have helped put Vail on the map as a world-renowned ski destination.
The athletes honored for each decade on the float are:
1960s: Pete Seibert — one of the founders of Vail Ski Resort and of Ski Club Vail. Seibert was inducted into the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame in 1980.
1970s: Rudd Pyles — in 1973, Pyles was one of the first members of Ski Club Vail to advance to the U.S. Ski Team.
1980s: Mike Brown — made the U.S. National Junior Team in 1981.
1990s: Chad Fleischer — was Downhill National Champion in 1996 and 1998, and competed in the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics.
2000s: Sarah Schleper — won her first World Cup in 2005, and competed in the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.
2010s: Lindsey Vonn — Olympic gold and bronze medalist. Vonn has competed in the World Championships five times. She is a four-time World Cup overall champion and has won in all five World Cup disciplines.
Vail’s parade is one of the most popular events during the Independence Day holiday, attracting thousands of spectators. Get to the village early to get a good spot to see the entire collection of 50th Anniversary floats.