By Dawne Belloise
Forget the North Pole, Santa will be here this Saturday, December 10.
Actually, nearly 1,000 Santas will be here, slapping on skis and boards and joyously making the annual run from the Ice Bar down the mountain in an undulating sea of red suits and white beards.
The spectacle, known as Santa Ski, along with the Santa Pub Crawl, is in its fourth year.
As with many well-established Crested Butte–flavored events, this one began one day when two or more dudes were chatting over a beer and a challenge was issued. Head elf and Santa herder Shaun Matusewicz of Iron Orchid Events explains, “Dano Marshall challenged me to come up with an event for early December when there were fewer tourists here. I talked to Scott Clarkson and Ethan Muller and said, ‘Hey guys, when would be a good weekend for Crested Butte Mountain Resort?’ Scott was able to pinpoint that the second weekend in December would be a good weekend to build an event around.”
And that got the ol’ snowball rolling.
“Last year we had 867 Santas, breaking the world’s record for most Santas skiing. We have more folks signed up at this point than we had signed up last year at this time. We still hold the record.” Matusewicz laughs that Buttians out-Santafied a different western ski resort that thought they could top the costume kingdom of Crested Butte. They maybe hit the 500 mark. But proudly, Buttians are the undefeated champions of costuming up for any occasion.
“The number of people coming from the Front Range specifically for the Santa Ski is incredible. There were 224 from Denver alone, and many more from the surrounding area,” Matusewicz tells.
The big news this year is that Santa Ski is also the cheapest day of the year to ski. Lift tickets are only $23 if you’re in a Santa suit. And of course, if you already have a CBMR season pass and your Santa suit from last year, the whole shindig is actually free for you.
All Santas rally at 2:30 p.m. at the Ice Bar at Uley’s cabin on the slopes, where you can shake your belly and laugh a hearty Ho Ho Ho to a DJ spinning tunes. And yes, Virginia, there will be drinks. For $35 you get a Santa suit, and five drink tickets for the Santa Pub Crawl that starts at the Ice Bar, makes the run down Big Al’s, onward to Warming House Hill to Butte 66 and then heads downtown (take the free Mountain Express shuttle) hitting parts of the legendary Barmuda Triangle of the Secret Stash, Talk of the Town and Kochevar’s.
Each Santa stop will offer up a different holiday libation. Even if you’re not participating in the ski, you can buy tickets just for the pub crawl. “We just want people to come out and have fun because the more people who are there, the better it is,” Matusewicz says.
Another new feature this year is the Santa suits. Matusewicz says, “We got rid of the felt suits in favor of a more durable suit. We wanted a suit that would last year after year, something that wasn’t so disposable; it wasn’t right for the environment. So we’re really excited about this.”
You can pick up your online pre-ordered suit or buy them Thursday and Friday at Rumors, aka Townie Books, or at the Western State Colorado University Book Store on campus in Gunnison. They’ll also be sold the day of the event at the Treasury Building at the base area.
“People like to customize them, cutting sleeves off, adding spikes, bedazzle and glitter. All sorts of funky Crested Butte–style fun,” Matusewicz grins. “You can sign up for the event at cbsantacrawl.com and we encourage people to sign up early because we only have a limited number of Santa suits.”
Matusewicz emphasizes that event is family-friendly. Kids’ Santa suits are only $15, plus the $23 lift ticket. All suits come with red pants, a red jacket, a fuzzy-brimmed hat and a beard. “There is plenty of room to go fast or slow or hang back and there were a lot of families that participated last year. It’s seven minutes of pure joy. You look around and there’s a sea of red with white beards coming down the mountain. You can’t stop laughing; it’s so funny.”