Feast upon the end of the local season

If it’s not one thing, it’s another. If it’s not monkeypox, it’s Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. If it’s not The Big Lie (stupid) it’s defunding the police (stupid). If it’s not Madison Cawthorn, it’s Jared Kushner, Kevin McCarthy or Hunter Biden. And then there’s another sudden, tragic school shooting taking the lives of innocent children that saddens the heart. Take a second to send healing energy to the grieving parents in Texas.

None of the above is something we want to taste at 9,000 feet out of the mainstream. While perhaps something that might impact us at some point, thoughts of monkeypox is not why we live here. We live here to breathe in and taste the buffet of small-town life which is abundant and fills our hearts with joy. Let’s not go anywhere near any of those things (although who doesn’t love to say ‘monkeypox’) as we embrace what is left of perhaps the most local time of the year in the North Valley. The trails are just opening, the parking is still abundant and the faces we pass are still familiar.

Last week’s birthday party for Mr. Jingles is about as local an event as you can have. A broad swath of town turning out for free beer and axe throwing while a heavy metal mariachi band hyped the crowd to celebrate 18 years of feline life is not something found everywhere. Cheers to that.

At the behest of Pat O’Neill, more than a hundred locals gathered to play golf to help Living Journeys, the local non-profit that assists local people struggling with cancer. That was last Saturday when the golfers arrived early to a course covered in three or four inches of snow. Instead of getting all angst, they waited. And after a three-and-a-half hour delay (that’s almost the time it takes to play an 18-hole round of golf) those there to help raise money for a really good cause played 18 holes of golf in chilly temps, sunshine and good spirits. And they raised a good amount of money for a group that helps our friends and neighbors. That too doesn’t happen everywhere.

The community is rallying behind the Titans girls’ soccer state championship run. By the time this paper hits the street we will know if they are state champs or not. But no matter the outcome of the Wednesday evening game, the community has latched on to the journey of the girls’ team taking a trip to the state 2A soccer finals and that is fun to see.

This coming weekend the village will celebrate the graduation of its high school seniors. The outdoor ceremony will take place Saturday morning outside the Crested Butte Community School and the community is invited to attend. Having been to more than a few of them, I can attest it is a feel-good event and a happy time for the community full of pride and optimism.  

It is the time when the children accept the mantle of being an adult in Crested Butte…whatever that means. After all there were plenty of local “adults” drinking beer and throwing axes in the parking lot of the hardware store just a week ago.  

One thing it should mean is that these kids understand and take on some more responsibility. I’ve heard that in some of their recent camping celebrations they do not always clean up the spot where they have been celebrating their exit from childhood. That is simply not cool. It’s not about being a kid or an adult, it is about being a person responsible to their general community. No one wants to see your leftover vodka bottles and broken bongs next to tire tracks in the wetlands. You must be better than that. You aren’t an entitled tourist who doesn’t know better – you are part of this local community. Now that you are graduating high school, understand that no one is going to follow you around and clean up your mess – physically or metaphorically. That is now up to you so raise the bar and set an example of being better than the stereotype of any 18-year-old high school graduate in any place USA.

Look, the community is proud that it provides interesting and unusual opportunities for the kids that grow up and learn here. They have unique upbringings that can only come from a small town in the mountains. They are blessed. The air is thin, but the bonds are thick. Embrace that mountain town uniqueness going forward in life…but also show respect for the place that helped nurture you. 

Monday will be the time for perhaps the most earnest celebration in the North Valley. Veterans squeezing into their old military uniforms will gather at Second and Elk about 9 a.m. to pay tribute to their fallen brethren as they march to the Crested Butte cemetery for a mass and military salute. The somber Elk Avenue “parade” is a Crested Butte classic and those who did not serve but appreciate those who did are welcome to honor the vets as they march in formation through downtown.

Then it’s all potluck and polka as the down-to-earth celebration of an old-timer’s community is the focus of Memorial Day in CB. Those with decades’ deep history of this place will trade stories and shake their head at how the place has changed between accordion melodies sweeping over the parish hall.  

All are welcome to the parish hall to get a feel for old Crested Butte but if you pop in, be prepared to get out on the dance floor.

A friend this past weekend noted that off-season was almost over. He is not wrong and while there will be some stranger’s faces with shopping bags in town this coming weekend, it is still a prime time for locals, past and present, to breathe in the fresh spring air of 9,000 feet. Breathe in the village children marking a milestone of life. Taste the history of old-time families who had members go off to military service to protect the country and came back to this valley while some friends and compatriots did not return at all. Savor the soul of a town that celebrates 18 years of Mr. Jingles with beer, axe throwing and metal mariachi. 

Breathe it all in these next couple of weeks…before the locals retreat to the alleys as the Teslas and boutique jets fill the summer streets with those looking for a small taste of what we are fortunate to feast upon. 

—Mark Reaman

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