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Local’s Guide to Painting the Town Blue

Get your wrist band Thursday!

All week, Elk Avenue has been undergoing a transformation into a blue wonderland nationally known as Whatever, USA, whose gates will swing open Friday to some seriously excited imported guests of Bud Light and a horde of curious party-minded locals.
The revelers and events will be recorded by Whatever crews and there is sure to be a profusion of selfies by the participants themselves, whose images will be splashed across social media.
Costumes are readily encouraged and no one costumes up like Crested Buttians. Yes, there will be a human sea of blue on Elk Avenue, so whether you’re a Smurf, Na’vi Avatar from Pandora, a Blue Meanie, a six pack of Bud Light or whatever, get into the groove because nobody does it better than we do.
Here’s how to get your credentials to access the party, how to participate and a few teasers as to all the surprises in store for the weekend because we are and always have been the original “whatever” clan.
First and most important, you’ll need a wristband that identifies you as a local of 21 or older.
Locals’ wristbands are a lovely orange and pair quite well with the overall blue. Whether you’re barely old enough or an octogenarian, you’ll need to bring ID, no exceptions.
Head over to either the tent by the museum at Fourth and Elk or the Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center at the Four Way Stop to register and get your wristband, then don’t take it off because once removed, the electronic chip is invalidated and you can’t get back into the festivities for the rest of the weekend. One wristband per ID.
Best of all…we’re talking free…all of it. The tent opens Thursday, September 4, at 9 a.m., so best to pick up your local credentials early before the throngs arrive on Friday.

Parking and buses
If you have to drive, the parking availability is no different from when Elk is closed for events like the Arts Festival. RTA and Mountain Express buses will be running. The Town Shuttle will not be stopping at the Old Town Hall and Whiterock stops during the Bud Light happenings. You’ll see Bud Light buses following the Mountain Express buses at times and those blue buses will be exclusively for the imported guests of Bud Light and crew, but as you know, our own Elite Fleet of Crested Butte still rocks a good time and will get you where you need to go.
Riding your townie? You won’t be able to maneuver it through the crowds beyond the gates but there will be bike racks on 4th and 1st Streets.

Wristbands
If you don’t plan on attending the festivities at all but need to access Elk Avenue businesses, you still need to get your wristband to enter. Children under the age of 21 will not be allowed into the fenced area of Whatever at any time, so you’ll have to plan ahead. Anyone can easily access the post office through the back alley as it won’t be included in the enclosure.
There’ll be additional local access for entering and exiting at 3rd Street north and 2nd Street south at the security gates.
If you’re under 21 and a certifiable employee working in a business within the fenced area you’ll need to bring proof of your employment to get your grey wristband. Okay, so it’s not the prettiest color, but you’re young, you’ll wear it well.
The 1,300 video contestants for Whatever, USA have already been chosen and informed that they’ll be on their way to a Whatever weekend, although their destination was suppose to be secret—alas, social media followed by the national media blitz may have spoiled that surprise. The lucky participants’ plane tickets actually state “Whatever, USA” as their final destination and the airport departure screens will announce the same. But even if Crested Butte was leaked, imagine their awe when they drive up valley through this paradise.

Elk Avenue closure for parades and stuff
On Friday, September 5, as the shindig gets under way, Elk Avenue will be closed at 4 p.m. to ready for the opening ribbon cutting ceremonies and parade. The Bud Light winning contestants will be the first to head down Main Street (they have the blue wristbands). Then locals will parade through the enormous neon archway into Whatever. There’ll be eye candy everywhere in blue hues with multiple themed patios and decks—art installations, giant blue exotic animals, hot tubs that look like they’re sunk into boomboxes, mechanical bulls, wandering street performers and musicians plunking out tunes of different genres, some of whom are local favorites and others are well known YouTube stars. There’s even a petting zoo. Contortionists will enjoy one of the many Twister games throughout the area, and of course there’s beach volleyball along with many surprises throughout the night. And yes, you’ll need a bathing suit for the hot tub if you plan to soak up the fun. It ain’t Sunshine’s or a backcountry hot spring…

Late Night
Elk Avenue businesses and restaurants in Whatever will still be open for business to the public, but again, you must have your wristband to access them. The stage and dance is set up at the west end of Whatever, by Kochevars, and promises to crank up the party until 10 p.m. when the exclusive guests leave for their private extravaganza at the Big Mine Ice Rink. However, locals are invited to stay downtown and continue the celebration at all their favorite watering holes until the wee hours when they normally close.
On Saturday, locals and guests will once again cruise Main Street Whatever for more surprises and events from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. From 6 to 8 p.m. the invited guests of Whatever will be served an outdoor Main Street dinner, while locals can have their choice of any of the Elk Avenue eateries and bars inside the area (you’ll have to pay for your own supper, of course). At 10 p.m. the chosen ones will head back to the Ice Rink for another night of private dance party, while locals do their thang in their very own bars.

Family and kids activities
The over 21 crowd won’t be the only ones having all the fun. There are kids’ activities planned to entertain the families and they’re entirely free. Jennifer Hillebrandt is the coordinator for Whatever families’ activities, all of which will be held outside the fenced drinking area. She says they have two outdoor movies at the library. Friday beginning at 6:30 p.m. there’s a gaming lock-in, which means kids only, no parents (yay!). Participants must be eight years or older for the gaming, but when the skies turn dark they’ll be enjoying the classic science fiction flick WarGames, rated PG. All ages are invited to come and enjoy free refreshments and popcorn at this 1980s movie. If it rains, the show will be moved to the big gym in the town offices; otherwise, bring your warm layers because it gets cold outside these nights.
On Saturday at noon, at the soccer fields in front of the Alpenglow stage, the emphasis is on the whole family at Family Palooza, with several giant bouncy houses and castles, family yoga that is kid-oriented, a special performer or magician, lawn games, art and crafts, and according to Jennifer, her favorite event—a silent disco where everyone dances in silence with headsets on to two different stations and all with hula hooping. Jennifer points out that it’s open to all ages, not just little kids. Saturday night at dusk, the popular movie Despicable Me will be shown at the library, so bring your little Minions for more fun, snacks and refreshments.

So, Crested Butte, it’s a full-out party weekend and we’re definitely ready for our close-up. Break out the costumes, your dancin’ shoes and your best blues. We’re always ready for whatever.

For more information get yourself to whateverusa.com and crestedbutte-co.gov, which will have the official street and road closure and access information for the weekend. For Family Palooza information see the Town of Crested Butte website or email hillebrandtj@gmail.com.

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