Sunday, September 23, 2018
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Lessons learned in fun

A lot of people asked me during the Whatever, USA party what I was going to write about this week. I said I might just write four words on Page 2 …This was (really) fun.
And it was.

While I don’t get paid by the word, I do have space to fill and it wasn’t all unicorns and sunshine (but pretty close, both literally and figuratively). I believe there will be long-term ramifications to come for the poor roll-out and secrecy leading up to the event. I think the wristband debacle was a cluster and could have so easily been done better. There was nothing good looking about the Elk Avenue paint chip-and-run on Tuesday.

In the big picture, I’ve been thinking about the high emotions and anger elicited from the idea of renting the town. We in essence lease it to the Pro Challenge but pay them a lot of money. We hand it over to Big Air on Elk and Vinotok and the Alley Loop. For some mid-timers there is a visceral negative reaction about bringing in a multi-national corporation to our little mountain village. Others feel cheapened by the painting of light poles and streets for a beer commercial instead of an organic bread party. I don’t buy into the “brand” of Crested Butte being damaged by this. We don’t live in a “brand.” We live in a valley filled with people who like to be outside the mainstream and try new things. This event fit that bill and it brought in people who understand the mindset.
 I really think the deeper issue that divided the town came from the middle-school clique scenario. That normally doesn’t happen here. Those who knew about the party in the spring and summer were the cool kids who got paid bank. The ones left in the dark until August were the nerds who not only weren’t invited to the dance, they had to pay for the band by not making the money they normally do that weekend. Splitting us into the “in the knows” and the “kept in the darks” was awful for us as a group that prides itself on being a commune-ity. We don’t always agree but we at least respect and look out for one another and don’t normally ostracize our neighbors.
There will be lessons to learn from this.

The event itself was phenomenal and reflected the fun spirit of this place. We tried something new and it came off. The music was fantastic, the vibe was funky and the smiles big. The sky didn’t fall and the nuclear bomb of a Bud Light sellout hasn’t ruined the community for all eternity.
For the most part…if you were there you loved the event. Like looking in a mountain pond on a slightly breezy day, it reflected Crested Butte with a bit of Vegas rippling the waves.
While the winners were all “millennials” in their 20s or early 30s who sure seemed to be having a great time, they weren’t the only demographic enjoying it. One of the few true Crested Butte old-timers left in town had a blast. Dorothy Sporcich was born in 1934 in the Third Street house she lives in today. Some neighbors escorted her to the hoopla on Saturday. She said she’s always hated the years when friends and family had to leave the area due to lack of work so she appreciated the whole thing. “As long as something’s going on, you know you’re not the only one alive,” she commented as plenty was going on around her.

It was certainly going on…
It was fun and funny.
It was blue and loud.
It was interesting and it was weird.
There was (gasp!) alcohol and music and games and a spring break beach at Third and Elk under real palm trees.
Street performers were every 25 yards and free Bud Lights every 25 feet. Models were dressed like giraffes and butterflies and a Mariachi band played outside Teo.
Human beer pong bumped into the Prancercize Lady. The sun shined on Vanilla Ice. The drummer from Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show band the Roots, ?uestlove, played at the Brick. So did Cassadee Pope, the winner of The Voice. I heard that one of the best concerts ever seen by some KBUT DJs and experienced music goers took place at the tiny stage next to the Stash.
Giant blue gorillas, painted rhinos, big cowboy boots and drones oversaw Elk Avenue.
There was a petting zoo, monster trucks, the über-cool Mayor of Whatever USA (who loved the mountain bike trails, by the way), Lil John, KC and the Sunshine Band, Alesso, Charli XCX, RAC, DJ Stella and others not on my iPod.

I rode my bike both days of the event. It was quiet and peaceful five minutes from town. It was not quiet inside the Big Mine Ice Arena that looked and felt and sounded like a major venue. The winners I talked to were nice and wanted to have a good party time. They did. They seemed to be coached to respect the place and they honored that advice.

The party was great, the process greatly flawed and the event guys are pros. I am happy the town took a chance and, for the most part, it worked. Sure, the immediate lessons are that we need to fix Elk Avenue; don’t divide into cliques again; remember that keeping secrets never works; and continue to be a commune-ity that should be open to new experiences—and fun.
Now I hope the community can begin the healing. And we have a real community meeting about the town’s long-term direction. What else is there to really talk about? Oh yeah, what to do with that $500K.

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