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PROFILE: Pete Curvin

Long and lean, sporting an enviably substantial head of hair well past his shoulders, his broad smile beaming out from under a baseball cap, Pete Curvin says, “I’m not a jock.”
Pete runs the parks of the Crested Butte Parks and Recreation Department. “I love every sport that I’ve tried,” he says, despite his disclaimer. “The only thing I don’t like is fishing because I’m too high strung for fishing.”
He looks more the part of the enthusiastic Dead Head he once was—having toured more than 220 Dead shows—and basically still is.
Born to two exceptional career-driven parents in Basking Ridge, N.J., Pete says, “I started skiing at two and a half years old in the Poconos and Great Gorge, N.J., where they had a little rope tow. It was only 25 minutes away from our house. I was hooked on skiing but I was forced to wrestle and hated it because I wanted to go skiing with my friends.”
Unfortunately for Pete, his dad was the volunteer wrestling coach for Pete’s school. “Dad told me if I won the state championship I’d never have to wrestle again.” So at 99 pounds in fifth grade, Pete won every single match that year. “I pinned every kid I wrestled, won the state and I’ve never been on a mat since,” he laughs.
Right after that, in sixth grade, Pete went to the North Country School just outside Lake Placid, N.Y., a boarding school, “and joined the ski team, racing slalom and giant Slalom,” he says.
At the school, says Pete, “We read things like Tom Wolfe’s Electric Kool-aid Acid Test, Kerouac, and Kesey. It was an equestrian school and we had barn chores and our own horses.” He rubbed elbows with the kids of famous parents.
Whiteface Mountain ski area was close by but the school had a double rope tow on the grounds. Pete played soccer in the fall, ski raced in winter and was on the tennis team in the spring. After eighth grade he went to a private high school in Maine, the Kents Hill School, which also had a rope tow on school grounds with snowmaking and grooming. He signed up for their ski program.
“If you were in the ski program you could ski every day, and night too, because it was lit. If you weren’t in the program you could only ski weekends. I definitely wasn’t that great of a skier but I wanted to ski every day so I was part of the team,” Pete wisely surmised. He played football in the fall and lacrosse in the spring.
Everyone has a magic summer of awakening, the one that defines them. For Pete, it was the summer of 1984. “When I was 14, my roommate and I went to see the Dead at the Hartford Civic Center, in Connecticut. My older brother came and got us. That was the biggest eye opener ever. After that, it was Dead all the time, forever. It changed my life. There were people my mom’s age and my age and it was one big family in a party environment,” Pete says.
He and his friend made a list of everywhere they wanted to see the Grateful Dead. “In the summer of ‘85, we went to Berkeley. I saw the West Coast for the first time. All I wanted to do was see the Haight [Ashbury] and all the hippie things I’d been reading about,” he says.
He went for the music but the real magic was in the community that toured with the Dead. “I was pretty hooked on Jerry [Garcia], but the crowd, the people, the family, and the feeling of driving into a parking lot and everybody runs up and hugs you,” Pete says, now with more than 220 Dead shows and 40 Gerry Garcia Band shows, not to mention the more than 200 Grateful Dead t-shirts he keeps in a vault in his garage.
“I love music,” Pete says, crediting his father’s influence. “When I was a kid, my dad was a multi-instrumentalist, playing drums, horns, banjo, guitar, piano, accordion and he’d play for us kids.”
Pete’s mom, a psychologist-sociologist, was supportive of his Dead habit and after the mail order tickets for the summer tour would arrive his mom would make cookies and wave Pete and his friends off. In 1987, while doing the summer tour through Colorado, which included three days at Red Rocks, Pete found himself in the Rockies for the first time.
“It was the most incredible thing. The Dead Heads took over the area, Morrison was wall to wall people, the whole town. The Dead were banned from Red Rocks after that. That was their last show there. From there, we were going to Telluride and we were driving through Gunnison when my friend said, ‘Oh Crested Butte, take a right!’ And we drove up here. It was August and it was dead, nothing was going on. The streets were dirt and it was the coolest place I had ever seen.”
Pete knew Crested Butte was a ski town and since skiing was the thing he loved to do most in the whole wide world, he just knew he was going to move here. As soon as he got home, he looked into Western State College (WSC). After his high school graduation in 1988, he did the summer and fall Dead tour all over the country—17 shows in 24 days back east, then culminating at the Oakland Coliseum on New Year’s Eve. By the fall of 1989 he was enrolled and finally attending WSC as a recreation major.
At one of the many parties of 1990, Pete met his wife, Tina Carisch. “I was at a party at her house and I was a little scared of her at first,” he laughs. “She was established, she’d been there years longer, had her group of friends and she had really cool parties.”
The two didn’t click until the following year when, as Pete recalls, “She came up, sat on my lap and asked if I had a girlfriend. We hit it off. But she was moving to Boulder to go to CU to be an engineer. She packed and left, but wound up moving back in about a month. While my roommate was home visiting his family, I moved Tina in. He had no idea… He was pretty surprised to find all her stuff moved in.”
The two have been together ever since moving to Crested Butte in ‘92 from Gunnison. They were engaged in ‘93, married in ‘94, and they were both still going to school. Tina was pregnant with their daughter, Elizabeth (Lizzy), when she graduated in 1994.
Pete held various jobs throughout, working at the Crested Butte Ski Rental Shop, at a car detailing shop with mechanics, and as a service manager at Mad Mike’s snowmobile and motorcycle shop where he put accessories on Harleys in the summer and worked on snow mobiles in the winter.
In the ski season of ‘94/’95 he was offered a job in vehicle maintenance at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and later became a snowcat mechanic, going to all the specialty training schools.
Meanwhile, Pete and Tina’s son, Patrick, was born in ‘97. In 1998, the couple opened their own auto mechanic shop, Mountain Auto, with Tina working the books and desk.
Pete says, “When I was a kid I worked as a mechanic at a marina, working on outboards and later putting together motorcycles and water crafts,” and he had also worked on his dad’s cars with his father. Pete admits owning his auto business was a struggle, so he took a job in grooming and maintenance for the Nordic Center and in the spring, was offered the position of parks supervisor for the town of Crested Butte, where he’s worked for 15 years now.
“I run the parks side of parks and rec. I run all the parks, I oversee the maintenance from the hockey rink to the softball fields, all the projects, including the tennis courts. The Crested Butte parks systems are amazing. I got to watch my kids grow up in my parks that I maintained since they were babies. I’ve helped shaped the future of the parks and been involved in the master planning. I love my job, love it. The town employees are like a family—many of them have been there the whole time I’ve been working there. I love the people I work with. They care a lot about Crested Butte.”
Skiing and biking are his passions by far. Pete is also the volunteer high school mountain bike team coach. “We took third in state last year,” he says proudly.
The guy who claims he’s not a jock also skis the grueling Grand Traverse (six times now), has done the Grin and Bear It, the Gothic 1/3 Marathon, the Crested Butte Classic Mountain Bike Race (100 miles), and the Al Johnson every year since ‘95, and is a Super Tour skier and a marathon runner.
“Every kind of race I can get to, I do,” Pete smiles. “I like to surf so I’ve been to Costa Rica. I always thought I would surf more when I got older and unable to beat my body up like I do now. The whole family does wake surfing and we’re so addicted to that we go to Blue Mesa every weekend, when we’re not riding bikes.” He also kayaks and claims to love golf. “It’s hard to be good at golf, so it’s challenging. I sky dive, and we have a parasail we pull behind our boat. I played town league hockey for the Eldo for 10 years,” and of course he was also on the softball team.
“I never want to leave Crested Butte. I want to spend some time in a beach area, maybe Central America, hanging on a beach with my wife, but I love it here. We still see a lot of music. We’re leaving next week for the Dominican Republic to see Widespread Panic on the beach. I go to Jazz Fest in New Orleans. I’m a serious New Orleans addict and try to go once a year. Your soul gets drenched with music there. Live music has been my life and my passion. My wife loves it as much as I do. I don’t sit still. I just love to keep on trucking, I feel like I’ve done a lot but I still haven’t scratched the surface of the things I want to do.”

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