Vail Valley joins ’Save Our Season’ project |

Vail Valley joins ’Save Our Season’ project

Grassroots effort aims to put more emphasis on personal action

Save Our Season stresses personal responsibility over government mandates.

Colorado’s rising COVID-19 case count is putting the ski season in danger. Stopping the spread is the best way to avoid a shutdown. Doing that will take all of us.

Eagle County this week joined a rapidly-growing effort called “Save Our Season.” The project doesn’t involve government, and doesn’t include mandates or restrictions. Instead, the idea is for all of us to pay attention, all the time, to stopping the spread.

Save Our Season began in Steamboat Springs, when Robin Craigen and a friend looked at the coming season and didn’t like what they saw. Craigen and his friend, both of whom are in the lodging business, attended a virtual public meeting to discuss the post-Halloween spike in cases.

“We didn’t have any tourists here — it was all self-inflicted damage,” Craigen said. “This isn’t lodging, or restaurants or retail shops … We caused this as a community, and we’ve got to stop it.”

Craigen said he believes most of us got complacent during the summer, when it looked like the virus was more or less under control. For example, Craigen pointed to having a meal with friends at a restaurant.

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“We’ve been trained that complying (with public health orders) is wearing a mask until you sit down, and you don’t need masks when you eat with your friends.”

Different messaging

Save Our Season brings what Craigen called a “different kind of messaging,” stressing personal responsibility over government mandates.

In just more than two weeks, and with quick work from Strategic Design of Steamboat Springs, communities including Summit County, the Roaring Fork Valley, Winter Park, Fraser and Grand County have all adopted the project.

The Vail Valley Partnership, the valley-wide chamber of commerce, has taken the lead in promoting Save Our Season. But Partnership CEO Chris Romer said the chamber’s role is more facilitator than director.

“This is designed to be peer-to-peer,” Romer said. “We’re happy to be the local coordinator, but the program is designed to let everybody be an ambassador.”

Romer said the pee-to-peer approach is needed right now. “This needs to come from neighbors, not only from the government,” Romer said.

Participants are free to download art to put in shop windows and elsewhere. Everyone is also encouraged to put Eagle County’s five commitments of containment into practice at work and at home.

Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa General Manager Kristen Pryor is a member of the Vail Valley Partnership Board of Directors. Pryor said she’s a fan of Save Our Season.

No one wants to close

Like hundreds of others, Pryor had to wait out the virtual shutdown of the state’s resort and lodging industries this spring. That affected a large number of the 200 to 300 employees at the hotel. She doesn’t want to see it again.

Pryor said our private lives need to match our professional lives when it comes to mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing.

“When we’re in public and in our workplaces, we seem to be wearing masks and distancing,” Pryor said. But in private settings, “we seem to let our guard down.”

No one wants to see businesses closed or people out of work, Pryor said. But to stay open, we need to take greater care.

Pryor noted that when she’s at a restaurant, she’ll put her mask on when a server comes to her table.

“It’s not fair they have to wear a mask and I don’t,” she said.

On the other hand, “People need people,” Pryor said. But the next four to six weeks are critical to save the winter season, she said.

No one likes being told what to do, Pryor added. That’s why she hopes a more personal approach might help slow the spread of the virus.

“We have to come together as a community and a state to do this,” she said.

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