Silverthorne wants a parade to honor Olympic gold medalist Red Gerard
Big Air Watch Party
With three athletes competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics Big Air contest with local ties, Silverthorne is hosting a watch party beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Pkwy., for the event-qualifier.
Entry is free. There will be children’s activities and pizza and beer for sale. Depending on what happens in the qualification round, the town will look to put out a list of local watch parties for the medal round on Feb. 23. For updates, watch the town of Silverthorne’s Facebook page.
Seventeen-year-old Red Gerard has become a household name to fans like 12-year-old Alan Gonzalez, who lives in Dillon Valley and idolizes the Silverthorne teenager who became the youngest individual American ever to win Olympic gold last week in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Like so many others in Silverthorne and across Summit County, Alan thinks Gerard deserves a parade put on by his hometown, and the boy was happy to learn Thursday the town is working on it.
“He’s awesome,” Alan said of Gerard. “I’m impressed that he got a gold medal at 17 years old. He’s also been in the X Games, and he’s really good.”
Alan had just exited the Burger King in Silverthorne, one of the local businesses that’s adjusted its marquee to honor Gerard’s gold-medal run Saturday in the men’s slopestyle competition.
But the fast-food restaurant isn’t the only one, as a groundswell of pride has overtaken Gerard’s hometown since he won America’s first gold medal of the 2018 Winter Games.
“I remember a couple summers ago, Red came in (to our store) to get a skateboard, and I pretty much just hooked him up because, like, he’s Red,” said Mark Spinney, who works at Blue Valley Ski and Snowboard Rentals in Silverthorne. “Now he’s winning the Olympics; it’s pretty crazy.”
Inside one of Summit County’s few independently owned ski shops, Spinney and other workers there said they’ve been talking about Gerard a lot lately. Like Alan, they too think Silverthorne needs to organize a parade for its gold-medal Olympian.
“I was just talking about that like 5 minutes ago,” Spinney said Thursday. “We gotta do it. Like, we gotta have a parade for Red.”
The Gerard family are natives of Ohio who moved to Summit County several years ago, in part, because of Gerard and the rest of his family’s love for snowboarding.
Right now, the town is trying to get ahold of Gerard, who appeared Tuesday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” town manager Ryan Hyland said before the beginning of Wednesday night’s Silverthorne Town Council meeting.
Once the town is able to get in contact with Gerard and two other local Olympic athletes — fellow snowboarders Chris Corning and Kyle Mack — town officials hope to nail down a date for some kind of celebration or parade.
Not waiting for the announcement, local businesses and individuals are already lining up to offer support, Hyland said, including everything from fire pits to keep people warm to banners for a parade. Even fire trucks are in the mix.
That’s because, at Summit Fire and EMS, the excitement is just as palpable as it is anywhere else.
According to department spokesman Steve Lipsher, the firefighters have been all-in for a parade for a while now, and they’re ready to help in any way they can, including offering up some fire trucks for the festivities.
Lipsher even posted on Silverthorne’s Facebook page from his personal account a suggestion the town should consider putting up a permanent sign saying something like, “Welcome to Silverthorne, home of 2018 Olympic GOLD MEDALIST RED GERARD.”
“Oh my gosh, like everybody in Silverthorne and throughout Summit County, we have enormous pride that one of our local kids did so wonderfully well,” he said speaking for himself and for the department. “It’s inspiring; it’s joyful. (Gerard) comes across as being a really lighthearted 17-year-old, and we couldn’t be more delighted he has come from our community. We are very enthusiastic about helping to honor and celebrate his incredible achievement. How can you not like this?”
In fact, the town is enjoying Gerard’s gold medal so much that town staff will leave the new rendition of Silverthorne’s welcome sign — turning “Silverthorne” into “Goldthorne” — in place as long as the paper addition can weather the conditions.
Hyland wouldn’t release the name of the individual who created the sign that made national news, but he applauded the work and said the red letters were actually created with children’s finger paint.
As for a possible parade route, Silverthorne’s marketing and culture manager Blair McGary said the town is looking into that, too.
She mentioned Rainbow Drive as a likely component to any parade, but said it’s premature to say exactly where a parade might go at this time.
Speaking to town officials, many details still have to be ironed out, but it’s more of a question of “when” rather than “if” because they’re just as excited to honor the local Olympians as anyone is.
“We’re very excited about not only our makeshift sign, but the gold medal won by Red Gerard,” Mayor Bruce Butler said at Wednesday’s town council meeting. “We’re very proud of the Silverthorne-affiliated and Summit County athletes, and all of the Colorado Olympians, as well.”
Referencing the intense interest in a local event to honor the Olympians, the mayor, who signed a proclamation supporting the local Olympians before the games began, said the town is working hard to come up with a plan for their return and there will be “more to come on that.”
According to McGary, who’s been with the town for 10 years, she can’t remember Silverthorne ever having a parade during her time.
“I asked around, and it sounds like the last parade would have been in the mid-90s,” Hyland wrote in a follow-up email.
For updates on local Olympic celebration plans, watch the town of Silverthorne’s Facebook page.
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