Tilkemeier: Encourage council to support statue remembering Pete Seibert, founder of Vail (column)
February 24, 2018
On Tuesday, March 6, the Vail Town Council will decide whether or not to fund a sculpture of Pete Seibert, the founder of Vail.
Pete was to Vail as George Washington was to the United States of America when he crossed the Delaware. Pete crossed Gore Creek with his Minutemen and founded Vail in a sheep pasture. His vision became a shot heard around the world — and now it is time to remember him.
We have spent 20 years in Seibert Circle trying to remember him — trying to honor him. Instead, we have a beautiful, expensive fountain, but where is Pete? He is "The Ghost of Vail." That is not acceptable.
With the growth of Vail, since its founding in 1962, there are probably thousands of people in the Valley who don't recognize the name Pete Seibert, let alone what he looks like and that he was the guy who gave all of us the opportunity to live and work here.
Bob Parker, Vail's original and brilliant marketing guru who put Vail on the international map, had this to say in 2005 when Seibert Circle was being debated the second time:
"Now, I hope in a most urgent way that the Vail community will find a way to revive and make significant Seibert Circle at the upper end of Bridge Street and arguably the 'center' of Vail. Too much has been made of Vail's other early pioneers, but anyone who was there in the beginning knows that Pete Seibert was the heart and soul of Vail and that he, and he particularly, deserves to be memorialized meaningfully by the community. All the best from a forever Vailite to all the real Vail pioneers." — Bob Parker Santa Fe, New Mexico
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We now have the solution to remembering Pete: a life-size bronze sculpture of Pete showing his plans for Vail to a Gore Valley rancher, without whom there would be no private land — the private land that is the basis for our multi-billion dollar annual real estate industry, as well as every other thriving business in the Eagle Valley. This includes the land under your home. Think about it.
This sculpture has been fully designed and developed by national and internationally known sculptor Herb Mignery, ready to pull the trigger, no bureaucratic hoops to jump through (that's all been done), unanimously approved by the town of Vail and Art in Public Places for installation in Slifer Square as you approach the iconic Covered Bridge from the parking structure.
It is the main entrance to Vail, so most visitors, as well as locals, will be able see him and even touch him and the rancher but, more importantly, feel the energy flowing from the sculpture. With luck and the money, Pete and the rancher could be greeting visitors and locals and particularly history buffs with a snapshot story of the history and founding of Vail by ski season 2018.
We, the taxpayers, through the town of Vail, recently commissioned and paid for a reportedly $200,000 sculpture to enhance the most beautifully finished, utilitarian underpass on the Interstate 70 corridor — maybe in the nation. Certainly we can afford to spend $300,000 to honor the guy whose vision made it possible.
So come ye, real estate brokers, business owners, employees, builders, plumbers, electricians, doctors, nurses, ski patrollers, instructors, policemen, firemen, school kids, journalists, our famous and infamous ski bums and all Vail Valley citizens. Bring your warm bodies to the Vail Town Hall at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, to help convince our elected officials that this sculpture is a wise and purposeful investment of your tax dollars. Warm bodies speak words that the tongue cannot pronounce.
If you can't attend, please send a supporting email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your support.
P.S. As further incentive, Vail Resorts executive Chris Jarnot said this at Bob Parker's memorial: "I'm biased, but I believe the story of Vail, and the people that founded it, will be one of the truly extraordinary stories in the history of American business."
Roger Tilkemeier is a coming 90-year-old Vail pioneer, arriving in Vail in February 1963, about a month after the ski area opened. He and his late wife, Jeanne, developed the first housing units on Main Gore Drive in East Vail, starting in 1964. He can be reached at email@example.com or 505-690-1881.