VAIL — The sales tax numbers won’t be in for another several weeks, but it looks as if Vail succeeded in its attempt to turn the Fourth of July into a long weekend for visitors.
Vail businesses report that the town was packed, as always, for the Fourth of July parade. This year, though, a lot of those people stayed around.
Tara Picklo owns the Yeti’s Grind coffee shop in Solaris, site of much of the in-village entertainment. Picklo said she was behind the shop’s counter just about non-stop for nearly 12 hours Thursday. Even after Picklo had left to go home to Eagle — and the fireworks show there — she said she was told the shop was busy for another couple of hours.
“I keep telling myself I’d like to see some of the parade someday,” Picklo said. “I guess it’s not going to happen.” That marathon behind the counter is different than years past, when the parade crowd tended to evaporate to parts unknown.
Rayla Kundolf owns Masters Gallery in Vail and is a member of the town’s Commission on Special Events. The events group decided earlier this year to try to keep the crowd in town, and for more than just the day. The commission hired Highline Sports and Entertainment to put together a weekend’s worth of tourist-friendly fun, in an effort to keep people in town for more than just a night or two.
“It was a great effort and I think it was well-received,” Kundolf said. “I’ve never seen so many people in the village.”
Vail Town Council member Greg Moffet said he was told there wasn’t an extra square foot available in the village for the fireworks. And, Kundolf said people stayed in town, adding that the people who wandered into her shop talked a lot about the music and food just up the street at Solaris. Even on Friday and Saturday, Kundolf said Vail “felt full — there was really a buzz.”
That buzz extended beyond the activities in Vail Village. At Vail Bike Tech in Lionshead, store manager Matt “Tooth” Toth said that store was busy through much of the weekend. And Moffet said he’d never seen Eagle’s Nest and Lionshead as summertime-busy as they were July 5.
“It was awesome — we were busy like gangbusters,” Toth said. “It made the last four days fly by.”
Aside from the additional activities, Toth said he believes the fact Vail had a fireworks show helped keep people in town, too — fireworks were called off in Aspen and Crested Butte, as well as several Front Range communities.
Jenn Bruno is also a member of the town’s special events group, as well as co-owner of the two Luca Bruno stores in Vail. Bruno said business at her family’s stores was brisk, but not spectacular, during the weekend. And that’s OK, she said.
“I think people were mostly focused on outdoor activities over the weekend,” Bruno said. “And they should have been — it was a beautiful weekend.”
The idea from this year on is to put the same kind of effort into Fourth of July activities. This year laid a good groundwork for those years to come, Kundolf said.
Moffet was hesitant to give too much credit to the town’s efforts. Weather played a role, as did fireworks, and Vail is always full for the Fourth, he said.
But Mark Herron, general manager of the Vail Four Seasons, is in just his second summer in the valley. He remains impressed by the efforts made to draw people to the valley, from the parade to the concerts and fireworks to the long-running Vail Lacrosse Shootout. All those things helped put more people into the Four Seasons this year.
And, Herron said, those guests were spending more money this year than last.
“That helps everyone,” he said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.