Eagle lightens the mood with relighting of monument in honor of avalanche victims
Town shares a laugh as it mourns
EAGLE – The Eagle Town Board, led by the late trustee Andy Jessen, heckled the town manager in 2019 for changing the holiday lights display to avoid an inadvertent phallic resemblance.
That board of seven elected officials is now just five with the loss of Jessen and trustee Adam Palmer in a deadly avalanche Feb. 1. Eagle County local Seth Bossung also died in the incident.
On Saturday, amid laughs and tears, the monument was lit again in their honor.
“This is Eagle’s version of a ball drop,” said Ken Hoeve, crediting his son with the quote.
Describing the night as an excuse to get together outside and mourn, board member Mikel “Pappy” Kerst said the event wasn’t about the statue, although it did lighten the mood.
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“Tonight, it’s about the community,” he said.
Andy Jessen’s spouse Amanda Jessen said she enjoyed seeing the monument lit again.
“When the town manager called me to say this was happening, it was the first time I laughed all week,” she said. “We all needed a little humor.”
Fertility of character
While the lighting on the monument was suggestive in a not-so-subtle way, the incident was also representative of something less obvious, which Andy Jessen understood.
In a town created from the economic engine of another location a couple dozen miles away, a battle for character is inevitable. As Vail has sought to professionalize, Eagle strives to stay “weird,” as pointed out by Jessen in 2019.
Kevin Brubeck was on the council with Jessen when Jessen referenced his “Keep Eagle weird” slogan in an effort to explain why the lights were symbolic of more than the male anatomy. Brubeck said the important part was that everybody was in on the joke.
“In Eagle, everybody knows each other,” Brubeck said on Saturday. “It is that small town.”
Jessen understood the stakes at play when small towns become too image conscious.
“I like that Eagle has character, and as the community grows, we lose some of that,“ Jessen said at that meeting in 2019.
On Saturday, several people pointed out that the statue was still in need of a vital piece before it could realize its full artistic expression once again.
“I think they’re going to add the bushes,” Amanda said.