There was a pickup truck-full of “Martini Queens,” a real-live poodle riding a motorcycle and some garishly shaggy ski gear marching down Main Street in Minturn’s second Foolish Day parade.
“This just gives me an excuse to be myself,” said Edwards resident Lee Keltner, who dressed up as Buffalo Bill Cody and, with cracking whip in hand, rode his horse Chief down Main Street.
Chief, however, is not Keltner’s silliest horse, he said.
“I’m sure all horses are pretty silly when they want to be,” Keltner said.
No local group may be doing more to promote wackiness in the valley than the Martini Queens, said Carol Nitz, a founder of the erstwhile organization.
“We’re all about riding horses toasted,” said Nitz, who lives in Edwards.
Nitz, who was decked out in full cowgirl gear, said the valley, alas, has lost some of its silliness over the years.
“It’s a little less foolish – some of the crazies have pulled out of town, but we’re carrying on the tradition,” she said.
But there’s still hope the valley can recapture some of that squandered giddiness, she added.
“We have to do more of what we’re doing right now,” Nitz said. “Be more spontaneous, not have so many rules and regulations.”
Martini Queen Jean McLaughlin said the Minturn Foolish Day parade has the potential to replace Vail Mountain’s legendary, but now defunct Great Race, which in its heydey was about the silliest event in the Rocky Mountains.
The Great Race was, at its heart a ski race, though team members had to swim a lap in a Lionshead pool wearing ski boots, as well as wear gonzo costumes.
“Any time you get to be foolish is a good thing,” McLaughlin said. “The philosophy of the Martini Queens’ is to have as much fun as possible as many times as possible.”
The Martini Queens’ pickup truck brought up the rear of the Foolish Day parade, but they were only one of a few vehicles that sent candy and toys flying all over Main Street. Ahead of the Martini Queens on motorcycles were Avon residents Debbie and Tab Bonidy and their poodle Oscar. There also was a small truck covered in parrots with a very laid-back moose riding in the sun roof.
“The first and funniest sweatshirt I saw when I moved here said, “Welcome to Vail, 3 square miles surrounded by reality.’ That essentially sums it up,” Tab Bonidy said.
The parade also is supposed to celebrate the end of ski season, said Georgette Van Buren, one of its founders and owner of Minturn’s Eagle River Trading Company gallery.
“It’s just to be light and stupid and have fun at the end of the season,” Van Buren said.
And Minturn just may be the place to go bonkers, she said.
“I think people in Minturn are the strangest,” Van Buren said. “I think all the towns in the valley but Vail have the capacity to be foolish – Vail and Beaver Creek take themselves too seriously.”
Beaver Creek resident Sandy King, who marched in a yak-inspired ski coat and woolly Chewbacca-style boots, did not take exception to Van Buren’s comments regarding her neighborhood’s lack of zaniness.
“Beaver Creek is not a silly place,” said King, who also wore a gaudy sweater with a full-sized leopard’s face on the front.
“This is real, I used to wear this – until I got heckled from the chairlift,” she said.
As for her boots, King described them with a phrase that must be a popular old saying up in dour, tight-laced Beaver Creek.
“These boots are older than my hairdresser,” King said.
Gerry Drom, who came all the way from Boston to march in the Foolish Day parade, summed up the morning’s atmosphere perhaps better than any other fools.
“I’m so thrilled this coincided with my visit,” Drom said. “I really felt like being an idiot for a couple of days.”
Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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