Vail Today: Vail Pioneer Weekend, a gathering for those who lived here prior to 1983 | VailDaily.com

Vail Today: Vail Pioneer Weekend, a gathering for those who lived here prior to 1983

By Tricia Swenson

Fall is typically a time for college students to return to their alma mater for homecoming celebrations. Every five years, Vail hosts Vail Pioneer Weekend, their own version of homecoming, but this one's without a homecoming court or football game, it's simply a time to gather with friends and colleagues who lived here prior to 1983.

"We picked that time frame because we thought it was a manageable amount of people," said Packy Walker, a long-time local who will be the master of ceremonies for the event. "We expect to see about 600 people. Some from as far as Hawaii, and some from Avon who haven't been to Vail in five years," joked Walker.

Although there are no fraternities or sororities in Vail, the bonds that were formed in those early days are much like friendships developed in college.

"It was a romantic time in Vail's history. In the early days we wore many hats and everybody helped each other," said Walker. We didn’t have a lot, we got our groceries in Denver, it was a six hour round trip,” said Walker, who came to Vail 50 years ago this month.

On Friday, September 22nd, there will be a Welcome Reception at Arrabelle at Vail Square from 5 to 7 p.m. On Saturday, September 23rd, the party continues at the Dobson Ice Arena for the Pioneer Dinner and Dance from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday morning, September 24th, Pioneers are asked to board the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead at 10:30 a.m. to attend a memorial service at the Vail Mountain wedding deck followed by lunch at Talon's Deck from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Vail pioneers are also invited to celebrate the life of Bob Parker, who was instrumental in shaping Vail into the ski area it is today. His service will be on Friday, September 22nd at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater at 11 a.m.

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What started out as informal gatherings became more structured in 2012. They now host the event every five years. "We are happy to have the Vail Chamber & Business Association putting this on, along with help from other sponsors. It's going to be great to see everybody and share a few stories," said Walker.

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