Marauding vikings invade Breckenridge for annual Ullr Fest parade
January 11, 2014
If you go
What: Ullr Fest parade
When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9
Where: Main Street, Breckenridge
Cost: Free to spectate
More information: Visit ullrfest.com
Ullr Fest wouldn't be complete without the annual parade, and this year's assortment of raucous floats and Viking-costumed characters will invade Breckenridge on Thursday, Jan. 9.
For many businesses in Breck, being a part of the Ullr Fest parade is a tradition. David Garrett, co-owner of Ski Country Resorts Management Co. Inc., said his company has been in town for 25 years, and participating in the festival and parade has been a yearly ritual ever since Ski Country's inception.
"Our office is at 213 N. Main St., where the parade starts its route going south to Park Avenue," he said. "We work a half day and get all of our employees and staff to participate in making a float, and we look forward to the parade starting and having a good time."
Duck calls and Broncos
Garrett said his employees are eager to participate in Ullr Fest every year, and Ski Country consistently ranks high when the float awards are handed out.
"We enjoy the competition with the rest of the business and individuals who put a float together," he said. "And we always rush to get back to see what other people have done for their floats.
"There's some YouTube videos — it's fun to take a look at the videos that are out there so we can see our float and the other ones, as well. When we're on the float, we can't see the whole thing as well. We look forward to people submitting video of us participating in the parade."
Ski Country's final float design is still up in the air, but Garrett said a few ideas have been tossed around the office.
"I'm trying to get a hold of Phil Robertson to see if he wants to do a 'Duck Dynasty' float," Garrett said with a laugh. "Our favorite float vehicle is a 1974 Bombardier snow cat, so we always take that snow cat and bring it to our office and build a float around it and then drive the snow cat down Main Street.
"We've done pirate and Viking ships in the past. We may like to do another Ullr or Viking-type theme, but that's all I can let out of the bag right now. Broncos is another one of our favorite ones, and we're happy that we're in the playoffs."
Breckenridge Grand Vacations has been part of the Breckenridge community for more than 25 years, and Ginny Vietti, vice president of marketing for the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 and Breckenridge Grand Vacations, said the company believes in supporting the unique character that has made the town so amazing.
"We also believe in working hard and playing hard — we love our employees being part of the excitement and fun of the community," she said.
Vietti said Breckenridge Grand Vacations consistently ranks in the top two for float designs year after year, with second-place honors in 2012 and the winning slot in 2013.
"It is a great way to get out in the elements when it's easier to stay bundled up and warm inside," Vietti said. "The parade celebrates those of us who 'make it' here all year and awards those who get into the spirit. Without snow and cold, we wouldn't be here, so it's a great way to pay homage to the Norse god of snow while having a great time."
As for the company's float design for this year, Vietti said it's "top secret," but no matter what they bring to Main Street, it's always a group effort.
"Chris Knudsen is our defacto King of ULLR," she said. "He is an example of a (Breckenridge Grand Vacations) employee who embraces the spirit of the town and puts his heart and soul into this float. We love supporting his vision and would like to congratulate our employees in advance for their hard work. They often work late into the night for many nights getting the float ready. I'm sure it will be another amazing effort!"
A bit of debauchery
For Snow Caps Sled Dogs, being part of the snow worship of Ullr Fest is a given each year, but ranking amongst the winners for float designs is not. The dog-sledding company typically has two entries in the parade: an enthroned Ullr with his harem pulled by a sled team of close to 30 huskies and a truck sporting a mechanical contraption depicting two dogs in a compromising position.
"The humping dogs have been in the Ullr Fest parade very year since 1998, so I think we're on our 15th anniversary for the humping dogs," said Orion Paiement, owner of Snow Caps Sled Dogs, with a laugh. "They kind of preclude us from winning anything. They're never going to give us any awards; it's too crude."
Despite the lack of parade accolades, the employees at Snow Caps look forward to the parade each season — both the mushers and their furry counterparts.
"The dogs look forward to running, regardless, but they love getting out and doing something new, the ones that are fortunate enough to be in the parade," said Paiement, who has been attending Ullr Fest for 28 years and said it's tamed quite a bit from its earlier years.
"Everyone is a little more sober, a little more responsible. In years past, it got kind of wild. Now it's more family friendly, but still a ton of fun. … It's a chance for locals — the people who drive this community and provide this great tourist destination — it provides them a chance to let their hair down and praise the snow god and pray for a good winter."
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