Time to clean up Ullr Fest parade?
BRECKENRIDGE – The Ullr Fest parade, Breckenridge’s bad-boy and bad-girl event in January, is just fine as far as town council members are concerned and not due for a P.C. injection.That’s P.C., as in politically correct.They like the way town police handle the event and they want the “bad apples” who take their behavior overboard to be busted.”I don’t want to suck the soul out of this thing,” Councilmember Jeffrey Bergeron said. “We sanitize a lot of things around here. This is one thing we should not sanitize,” agreed Councilmember Rob Millisor.”I don’t see the parade as being Sodom and Gomorrah,” Bergeron added.It may not be as wicked and depraved as Sodom and Gomorrah, but everybody agrees the Ullr parade has a raw edge fueled by skin, High Country humor and booze.That’s the parade’s attraction and that’s what brings out the people to jam Breckenridge’s Main Street.”Traditionally the parade is off color and a little bit raw; that’s what’s it’s always been,” Assistant Police Chief David Miller said. “But we don’t want to be the culture police and the fashion police.”
The worry, according to Miller and Chief Rick Holman, is that more of the adults are bringing children to the event.Miller said one incident in January got him thinking.As the ever-present candy toss from float to crowd was under way, a child scrambled onto the street just as a man exposed himself. The flasher got busted.”We got a bad feeling about what we are doing,” Miller said.The Ullr discussion arose at a recent town council retreat.Holman pointed out the alcohol-fueling of the event and the fact police turn a blind eye for three hours to violations of the town’s open container law.He also worried about the example the drinking shows young people. “Synonymous with this being Colorado’s Playground is it being Colorado’s Party-Ground,” Holman said, borrowing the Summit County “Playground” slogan from highway welcome signs.Holman’s concerns likely stem from surveys developed by the Summit Prevention Alliance that show Summit youths are taking alcohol and marijuana at higher rates than their peers.
The chief said he was looking for ways to promote responsibility in the event and wanted the town council to “think twice” about “moving from a 24-hours party culture to a 24-hours healthy outdoor culture lifestyle.””I’m not trying to start a temperance league here, so don’t get worried,” Holman said. “I recognize Ullr’s importance to the community … it’s something the community supports and it’s a controlled environment, for the most part.”Millisor said that while more children show up for the parade, it’s always been something for the young adult crowd that keeps the resort working, and he’d hate to seem them lose their day of fun.”We are not puritans,” said Councilmember J.B. Katz, saying police should not turn the blind eye to the isolated excesses.Councilmember Larry Crispell said he took his grade-school son to last January’s parade and he thought the duct-tape guy whose private parts were taped, and nothing else, was funny.”I don’t think, with a few exceptions, anything that inappropriate is going on,” Councilmember Jim Lamb said.Another issue before the elected officials was the location of the Ullr bonfire, a once popular event held in town now banished to the Gold Run Nordic Center off Tiger Road.”I don’t like the bonfire where it is,” Councilmember Eric Mamula said.The bonfire, like the parade, can be a highly adult event.”It was never meant as a family event,” Mamula added.
“I didn’t like the (St. Paddy’s Day) Pub Crawl because I always thought somebody would die, but the bonfire is one event I would love to see come back.”Mamula said the drive to the current bonfire location, and the need to nordic ski to it, limits attendance.Millisor agreed the bonfire “was not for families.””But a lot of families were created because of it,” Mamula quipped.Town events coordinator Kim DilLallo said, “In the old bonfire days, nobody in their right mind would bring children.”It will be up to DiLallo and the Breckenridge Resort Chamber to digest opinions about the Ullr Fest parade and bonfire.Some thoughts from the retreat were to advertise the parade as not fit for children or to create a kid-friendly zone where parade entrants could keep it more tame.The one point of agreement was that float drivers could not be drinking, and if caught, should be busted.Jim Pokrandt can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 227, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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