Creating new traditions in Eagle County | VailDaily.com
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Creating new traditions in Eagle County

Charlie OwenVail, CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
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EAGLE COUNTY, COLORADO Thanksgiving is a holiday rooted in tradition, which most people learned as children, sitting with family at the dining room table, a feast spread before them. Across the country today, U.S. families will gather together in comfortable houses, the aroma of baking breads and roasting turkeys thick in the air. Some people will fall asleep while watching football games on television, others will try to cling to the remnants of a diet forsaken early in the morning.And even though many people moved to Vail to find a way of life outside the parameters of normal, with the holidays comes a longing for Moms home cooking and the familiar traditions. Many new-to-town residents, living in a new place sans the comfort of family, are forced to search out new ways to celebrate.

Mitch Hinrichs understands this quite well. The three-year Edwards resident knows that many of his friends dont have family to rely on and dont really understand the basics of cooking, either. Thats why each year, he invites a group of people over to his house for a potluck dinner and fellowship to celebrate the holiday. The difference between Hinrichs celebration and most others is that he throws his party the weekend before Thanksgiving Day, allowing for friends and co-workers who might be out of town or working on the holiday to get together and have a good time.Im a teacher, and (I) have a lot of friends, and I just kind of realized that a lot of teachers around here are originally not from Colorado. They just kind of wanted to do something basically as an excuse to get together and hang out with friends, Hinrichs said. Although the dinner is traditional, the setting is not, Hinrichs said, mentioning that his townhome was a little small for the 15 or so friends that showed up Saturday.Its tight quarters and all that, but its fun, Hinrichs said. Besides the turkey, which Hinrichs cooks each year in a tinfoil bikini to give it tan lines, he said guests bring pies, casseroles and other side dishes. Instead of just watching football inside, the group alternated between watching hockey and ultimate fighting and throwing a Frisbee outside.Its definitely become a tradition, and its definitely a lot of fun, said Heather Potts, who has taken part in Hinrichs celebration for the past two years.

Many people have to work on Thanksgiving Day and for that reason find it difficult to enjoy the holiday at all. Wolcott resident Billy Mounsey has to work the counter at Pier 13 Liquors in Eagle-Vail during the day, but he plans to go to a friends house after he closes the store.The holidays out here arent that big to me. A lot of peoples families are 2,000 miles away, so what do you do? Mounsey said. The dismay over being lonely during the holidays often leads to a lazy mans approach to celebrating.I think the beauty of Thanksgiving in the valley is no one can afford the hundred bucks for the meal so everybody either buys a bottle or a pie and calls it a day, Mousey said.Some residents dont even want to celebrate the day at all. For those who want nothing more than a hug from Mom and Dad and a plate full of mashed potatoes and gravy, this might seem unimaginable, but to 19-year-old Kaeli Gemmell, a spa coordinator at Aria Spa & Club in Cascade Village, there are better things to do with her time than stuff her face.Id rather be working or snowboarding. You got to work to make money, Gemmell said. In the past, she has gone to Denver and Boulder for a night of clubbing with friends, but this year she will probably go to a friends house and watch football, she said.

For those who need to have that good, old-fashioned home cooking but either cant afford it or dont have time to prepare it, there is a saving grace. The Turntable Restaurant & Motel in Minturn will be serving a hot meal from 4 to 8 p.m. today for free. Darla Goodell began the tradition five years ago when she found she was cooking at the restaurant for her family anyway. I have a real big family, and my mom is older, and shes always cooked, so I started cooking for my family and then I had guests in the hotel that needed something to do, Goodell said. People dont only need food, they need people. I dont think anyone should be alone on the holidays or anytime, really.And if you find that boredom has got the best of you this turkey day, Turntable waitress Debbie Gustafson will find something for you to do.A lot of people have called asking, What can we do to help? We tell them to bring donations or help out in the kitchen, Gustafson said.Arts & Entertainment Writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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