Breckenridge Town Council discusses overcrowding as events bring in more visitors | SummitDaily.com
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Breckenridge Town Council discusses overcrowding as events bring in more visitors

Cars fill the parking lot at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The Breckenridge Town Council plans to discuss overcrowding during events and at the ski resort at upcoming meetings.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

Breckenridge town leaders want to open a conversation about overcrowding after the 2022 International Snow Sculpture Championships led to increased traffic and parking issues over the week of Jan. 24.

Breckenridge Tourism Office President Lucy Kay presented visitor statistics from the event at the Breckenridge Town Council meeting Tuesday, Feb. 8. Overall, fewer people attended the 2022 competition than in 2020, but that doesn’t mean the event didn’t bring in crowds.

Town officials counted 93,627 vehicles driving through Breckenridge throughout the week, which is down 2.7% from the 96,193 cars driving through during the event in 2020. In 2019, when the event caused gridlock traffic that prevented emergency vehicles from getting through town, officials counted 82,729 cars, Kay said. The event was canceled in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.



This year, event organizers added a reservation system for visitors. Over 14,000 people signed up for the event in advance. Kay said implementing the reservations was a daunting task but ultimately helped things run smoothly.

“We appreciate the volume and the impacts,” she said. “We leaned in heavier this year than in the past to see what we could do in advance to help with that. It maybe took the edge off; it didn’t solve the problem.”



Throughout the week, council members said they heard about cars parked on residential streets as lots for the event filled up. While events like snow sculptures are good for bringing in business, council members said they feel like there needs to be a larger conversation about preventing traffic from building up.

Mayor Eric Mamula said discussions about events are often frustrating because there are always people who are left displeased.

“During the pandemic, we said we wanted to relook at events, and all we did was get yelled at by people that said we were anti-business,” Mamula said. “Now everybody comes out of the woodwork because it’s too busy.”

Cars fill the parking lot at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The Breckenridge Town Council plans to discuss overcrowding during events and at the ski resort at upcoming meetings.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

The council said they’d like to open a conversation with Vail Resorts and the tourism office to see what can be done to keep crowds at bay. The council members floated a variety of ideas from better marketing to increased ticketing for parking violations during special events.

“We need to think of all of these ways that we can give a bit of relief and every way the council can effect some change,” council member Erin Gigliello said.

Kay said the tourism office focused its marketing efforts for the event this year on informing people about the reservation system and giving them instructions on how to use it. She said the event planners avoid marketing the event to people on the Front Range or from out of state to avoid overcrowding.

“They’re coming anyway, so now we’re moving into telling them how to visit a little bit better,” Kay said.

A survey of people who attended the event showed 75% knew about the reservation system. The new system also allows the tourism office to build a database and track trends for future events. Kay said her team is considering adding reservations to more events in the future.

Overcrowding isn’t an issue specific to snow sculptures, however. For the past three weekends, around 90% of the available lodging in Breckenridge has been occupied, Kay said. The situation ultimately leads to more traffic in grocery stores, on highways and in businesses.

“At some point, we just need a better plan for mitigation and management of these things,” Mamula said.

The council plans to hold another work session in the coming weeks to go over the issue in more detail and brainstorm potential solutions.

Cars fill the parking lot at Breckenridge Ski Resort on Wednesday, Feb. 9. The Breckenridge Town Council plans to discuss overcrowding during events and at the ski resort at upcoming meetings.
Tripp Fay/For the Summit Daily News

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