Holiday "busier than last year’ |

Holiday "busier than last year’

Cliff Thompson

Seasonally dressed with nine inches of fresh snow, 2003 blew into a Vail Valley with full lodges, restaurants and ski slopes.

Anecdotal evidence from visitors and residents indicated this year’s holiday has been much busier than last year’s terrorism-tainted holiday season that saw skier numbers down by 7 percent.

Part of that can be attributed to the good snow that allowed Vail Mountain to open a week earlier than scheduled.

Word of good snow caused Vail’s south Frontage Road to be flanked by parked cars from Cascade Village to the Golf Course Bridge. Parking spaces throughout the village were nonexistent.

Even Vail Village’s formerly raucous New Year’s celebration -where at times 6,000 or more youths crowded Bridge Street and Gore Creek Drive- the town enacted a curfew three years ago and a restricted access to the core of the village. For the most part it was like any other holiday night in Vail, with full bars and restaurants, but no mob-like incidents.

“All was well last night. There were no real problems,” said Vail’s Jamie Wilson. “It was a little busier in the village than last year.”

But, two male pedestrians remain hospitalized after being struck by vehicles on the North Frontage Road at 2 a.m. A 37-year-old female was arrested for driving under the influence and for vehicular assault and a 34-year-old male was arrested in connection with the incident and charged with driving under the influence.

While the holiday evening went off without a major incident, there were more arrests made than last year.

Twenty-five adults and one juvenile were arrested for infractions ranging from open containers to possession of illegal substances, Wilson said.

Last year 17 arrests were made and Vail brought in 100 law enforcement officers from other agencies to keep the peace. This year it used 48, said chief Dwight Henniger in a press release.

No major holiday inspired incidents were reported throughout the rest of Eagle County. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Andree said two drivers were arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and an assault was reported.

The snow blew in with the latest Pacific Ocean moisture, creating slippery driving conditions and several automobile accidents, slowing traffic on Interstate 70, U.S. Highway 6 and secondary roads.

Busy, busy, busy

On the business side of the equation things during the peak day of the Christmas holiday were busy -busy enough that even during lunch hour restaurateurs and other businesses contacted for this article declined comment.

“Would you mind calling back later?” was politely and sometimes not so politely uttered.

At Vail’s Red Lion, owner-manager Scott Douthitt, who has been in Vail for 10 seasons, was pleased with New Year’s Eve.

“It was great,” he said. “Most people were having a good time. We had a good party.”

He said the curfew and age restrictions in the village core created the right environment.

“There were enough people on the street that it was busy. If we had had a street full of 17-year-olds it would have been a riot. (The restrictions) make it a better experience for everyone involved.”

In Beaver Creek, veteran restaurateur Don Bird of the Golden Eagle said his restaurant was full at lunch time.

“I’ve got a line going out the door and I’m bussing tables,” he said. “Got to go!”

It also was busy in Edwards. At Sato, line cook Pete Miller said this year’s holiday crowd made it much busier than last season.

“It was insanity – beyond busy,” he said.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or

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