Vet’s rally for Winter Park |

Vet’s rally for Winter Park

Will Bublitz
Grand County correspondent
Vail CO, Colorado

GRAND COUNTY, Colorado ” After protests from local business people and veterans, the Winter Park Town Council’s decision to cancel next year’s “Salute to American Veterans Rally” is being reconsidered.

At its Tuesday meeting, it was announced the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce has decided to continue negotiations with Pro Promotions, the producer and promoter of the rally.

The announcement that the chamber plans to continue negotiations with the rally’s promoter follows last week’s decision by Winter Park Town Council during a special meeting where they voted “not to invite Pro Promotions back to produce the Salute to American Veterans Rally in Winter Park.”

The decision was made on a 5-1 vote during a discussion about next year’s special events schedule between the council and the chamber of commerce.

Mayor Jim Myers, who cast the only dissenting vote last week, had the issue of the rally placed back on the council’s agenda for the Tuesday meeting.

Before public comments began during Tuesday’s meeting, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce Director Catherine Ross announced that since last week’s meeting she had met with the chamber board of directors who directed her to “address the concerns” over the event with Pro Promotions and “see if we can reach an agreement with them.”

Those negotiations will take place in October. Recommendations will then be made on continuing the rally next year in the Fraser Valley.

During the public comment period of Tuesday’s meeting, several local business owners and veterans protested the council’s decision and spoke in support of the rally.

Russell Robinson, the owner of Adolf’s Bar and Shipwreck Landing in the Old Town area of Winter Park, said the veterans rally was his “best weekend” of the summer and had “impacted business in Old Town fantastically.”

He argued that Pro Promotions had “done everything they promised” and the rally should be given more time to become successful as the town did with the Jazz Festival.

“This was our best event this summer,” said Joan Weder of Gasthaus Eichler restaurant. She said the rally “fills the town” and provides “huge publicity” for Winter Park. She asked the council to “give it another chance.”

Deno and Nick Kutrumbos, the owners of Deno’s Mountain Bistro, also supported the rally. Nick said it was “the most profitable weekend of the summer” for their business and lauded the “camaraderie” of the rally’s participants. Deno agreed, saying the “veterans want a home” for their rally in Winter Park and local businesses “want it back.”

Also speaking were local veterans such as Lewis McGrath, who warned that rejecting the rally would be “a black mark” against the town.

Patricia Beekman, another veteran and motorcycling enthusiast, said the “biker community is very loyal” and all the veterans want to return to Winter Park in 2009.

In response to all the comments in support of the rally, Rusty Thompson, who is one of the two chamber of commerce members on the town council, said the town and chamber “definitely want to honor veterans” with some kind of event next year.

He said the chamber would be “going back to address concerns with the promoter” with the goal of “making the rally happen.”

Ross, the chamber director, said that she hoped all those speaking up for the rally would also show their support to help “make it successful.”

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