Carnes: Traditional values – Vail style |

Carnes: Traditional values – Vail style

Richard CarnesVail, CO Colorado

I recently had the distinct pleasure of enjoying one of Happy Valley’s many traditions: the 3:30 p.m. ringing of the bell and champagne toast at the base of the mountain, put on daily in both Vail and Beaver Creek by the Chophouse.To the best of my highly suspect knowledge, they have not missed a day since the event’s inception way back when.Like snowboarders’ “lookin’ like a fool with your pants on the ground,” the crowd response brought back memories of past valley traditions – some good and a few not so much – but all memorable to one degree or another.Like it or not, they help define our little piece of the planet known worldwide as Vail.Some Vail traditions, such as July 4 America Days and Labor Day’s Duck Race, are little more than thinly veiled marketing opportunities, while others are short lived, such as hosting the World Ski Championships every 10 years and not having the highest single-day lift tickets in the solar system.But like Minturn being a mining and railroad town, think about those long-standing practices that we thought would never end. At one point, we had the Great Race and the real BBB&B (some of us added an extra “B” for super double-secret reasons), yet now they are nothing more than hazy memories of snow bars, Chinese downhills and swim laps wearing an old pair of Raichle’s. If your memories aren’t hazy, then you weren’t actually there or you didn’t have any fun, but either way, both are now gone due to liability “issues.”Some traditions I would be happy to see fade away, such as the town of Vail pretending to enjoy being in bed with Vail Resorts or the slowly moving westbound parking lot known as Interstate 70 every weekend afternoon.Others will never go away (although I’m not sure they qualify as traditions), such as ad hominem attacks on the Vail Daily Web site and the certainty that if sales tax collections drop in Vail, they drop everywhere else.Some evolve, such as Bar Hogs moving from the old Sundance to Bart & Yeti’s. The same could be said for many of the regulars from a whole slew of Vail bars that now patronize etown, the Gore Range Brewery and the Main St. Grill in Edwards instead.But I suppose those are actually habits, as opposed to traditions.A ski race, such as the 30-plus years of the Vail Cup, is a tradition steeped in ensuring each generation of local kids have the opportunity to compete on the snow, while Ski and Snowboard Club Vail has quite the tradition (and reputation) of churning out world-class athletes (just say, ” Vonn, Lindsay Vonn”).Others are a simple acceptance of a way of life, such as October and May being dead in the water as far as retail is concerned and dictating that the village will always be the village and Vail Square will always be Lionshead. Here’s one I hope never ends: Sandy Treat II talking about the good ol’ days of skiing way back in his early 80s over at the ski museum. Not THE early ’80s but his.Tradition, to some, is still calling this area the Eagle Valley, yet for the last three decades, most refer to it as the Vail Valley. Arguments either way are usually heard by deaf ears, both sides ignoring American frontiersman Jim Bridger’s tribute to the drunken Irishman, Lord Gore, by naming it the Gore Valley (please keep your “Al” jokes to yourselves).But the recent discovery of ancient carvings found in a secret local area implies that the Ute Indians (known as the Blue Sky People by other tribes) called it the ” Valley of Happiness.”So even though I might have made that up, I’m sticking with “Happy Valley.” There’s just something about “tradition.”Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at on

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