APRIL FOOL’S " Dead-mule pile concerns homeowners | VailDaily.com

APRIL FOOL’S " Dead-mule pile concerns homeowners

Photos.comSparky the mule complains after being informed he will be 'bottom man' at the Badger Creek Ski Resort's summer dead-mule pile.

BADGER CREEK ” Theodore Breen Jr. stands gazing up at the snowy base of Badger Creek Mountain from the diamond-encrusted helipad on the roof of his family’s 63-room mansion at the heart of this tony Colorado ski resort.

After a hard day of hiding his inheritance from the federal government, Breen ” the heir to a vast roach-clip and tie-dyed-bandana fortune ” finds solace in caviar-foie gras martinis and his priceless view of the world-famous ski hill.

But, he said, the Badger Creek Resort Company has “hideous” plans that, this summer, may destroy his beloved vista.

“This isn’t about the Breen Family, but about the character of this resort that we and our neighbors love and have invested in,” said Breen, whose family built the resort’s Breen Performing Arts Center. “This is about preserving quality of life and the mountain experience for which we all moved here.”

The Badger Creek Resort says its plan is a sure-fire way to increase business during the slow summer months. The “Dead-Mule Pile” will lure visitors who might otherwise choose to visit the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, said Laramie Tuttle, a special events consultant for the resort.

“It’s just what it sounds like ” a pile of dead mules, about three stories high,” Tuttle said. “Kids just love it, because there are just so many things you can do on and around a rotting heap of pack animals.”

Kids can slide down the dead mules, bounce from carcass to carcass or think of celebrities the deceased burros resemble, Tuttle suggested.

“It will also teach children respect for the cycle of life,” said Hadley Wing, the resort’s enviromental coordinator. “While kids at other resorts are skateboarding and consuming precious resources, our guests have a chance to spend a few hours staring their own mortatily in the eye, albeit a mule’s eye.”

Removing eyes, ears or tails to keep as souvenirs will be prohibited, Tuttle added, as will any form of pin the tail on the donkey.

“Cool, that’s gross,” said 8-year-old Wyatt Berkowitz of Great Neck, N.Y., when asked if he’d like to play on a dead-mule pile.

“I bet it’s going to smell like your mother smells,” Berkowitz’s friend, Skyler Baldwin, 9, responded with an obscene gesture.

In a rare alliance between environmental groups and owners of multi-million dollar ski mansions, Patchouli O’Toole, wildlife affairs director for Rocky Mountain Animal Watch, said the mule pile idea was not only a new achievement in animal cruelty but a “gross insult to public health.”

“Sure, dead mules may attract families, but they also attract flies and mosquitoes, which means a Pandora’s box of diseases,” O’Toole said. “There’s donkey-pox, the wobbly-burro flu and braying sickness, just to name a few.”

Kiki Winchester, a neighbor of Breen’s, said she will do all she can to prevent the resort from building the mule pile. She offered a compromise.

“The place is called Badger Creek, not Mule Creek,” she said. “If there’s going to be a pile of corpses, it should reflect the theme and character of the resort.”

Winchester pointed out the several badger scluptures and statues at the resort as well as the popular stuffed animals sold at many of the resort’s shops.

“You show me a heap of badgers, dead or alive, and you’ve got my support,” she said.

Vail, Colorado

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