Life on the Summit: Silverthorne’s solar revolutionary appears in national Dodge Ram commerical |

Life on the Summit: Silverthorne’s solar revolutionary appears in national Dodge Ram commerical

Miles F. Porter IV
Special to the Daily

Silverthorne entrepreneur and international solar power revolutionary Jon Harrington has been in this column before.

Longtime Summit County parade watchers remember Jon and his Alpine Gardens’ Checker Marathon station wagon making the July Fourth rounds for years. He recently sold the taxi beast, which had been on its last legs for many years.

This time it’s that Dodge Ram truck TV commercial — the one showing the 3500 turbo diesel dually pickup towing around a monster Christmas tree that’s later being erected at the Capitol in Denver — that brings Jon to the fore once again.

The group of producers, directors and stuntmen actors, working for The Richards Group in Denver, took five days of filming and then crammed all the important bits into a 30-second TV spot.

Local filmmaker and locations scout/manager Ann Lukacs of Breckenridge contacted Jon for his expertise and group of buddies.

From his solar trade show outpost in Costa Rica, Jon says it went this way:

“Ann wanted to know of a place to shoot cutting the tree down, and a tree. I contacted Mountain Diggers and Builders owner Jim Neville about his Headwaters Ranch over by Leadville. We got the ranch and trees through him and shot the stunt-double tree cutting there and then craned out the real tree on the same day. That was the first time, and it took over 60 people and four hours to cut one tree. Zeb Mertes, former owner of Beetle Kill Tree Guys, cut the real tree, and he and I coached the actor on cutting the stunt tree.”

The star of the TV ad, besides the powerful truck, is the tree, which Jon describes as 160 years old, originally 80 feet tall and weighing in at 13,000 pounds.

“It was a great experience with some great crew: Mountain Temps, Breckenridge Crane, Mid-Mountain Crane and Mountain Diggers and Builders all came through to help with a commercial shoot that would usually take weeks,” says Jon. “I even enlisted my old friend and former tree-crew member and now waiter extraordinaire, John Gruel of Keystone Ranch.

“Then they drove it around Colorado and shot video of that for the weekend,” he said. “The following Monday, we shot the tree stand-up and lighting at the Civic Center Park in front of the Capitol. Zeb and I climbed the tree while it was hanging from the crane and worked the lighting with some guys on lifts. Interesting that we only lit the first 10 feet. They added more the lights and extra branches in post production.

“Zeb helped with the tree setup also. Then he boarded a plane that night to go buy a hostel in Columbia,” Jon notes. “So we have both headed south after the chaos. Now back to my Cerveza.”

Where is the tree now?

“I have the tree at the lot I rent from Bob Wyler across from the Lowe’s,” he says. “I will be back to deal with the tree by Nov. 20. Right now it can be seen from I-70 across from Lowe’s just before you cross the Blue River driving from Frisco. It is under the red shade tarp I got to keep it fresh.”

What will happen to the humongous Colorado blue spruce?

“It may end up in the River Run Plaza in Keystone,” says Jon. “I wanted to use it to promote the commercial, as it is a large load as you can see in the photos.”


Meanwhile, here’s a week’s advance notice to all of you who love Frisco’s Moose Jaw:

Lynda “Mama Moose” Colety and husband Jim will host their 40th anniversary party on Saturday, Nov. 23.

There will be two levels of participation available, with “friends of MJ — you know who you are (older crowd)” starting at 5 p.m., and running to 9, when the newer, younger fans are invited to keep the party rolling.

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to

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