Ullr! Breck preps for week of festivities honoring god of snow
BRECKENRIDGE – Rick and Lucia Sramek have been selected as this year’s Ullr King and Queen and will be coronated at the annual bonfire at the Gold Run Nordic Center Monday to kick off the zany week of winter festivities.Ullr Fest is Breckenridge’s annual winter festival, created to honor the Norse god of snow, Ullr. Legend has it that Ullr was the son of Sif and the stepson of Thor, the god of thunder. Ullr loved traveling over the country on his skis and was known as a master of pursuing game through the northern forests.Each winter, he covered the ground with snow to protect it from harm during the season.
He eventually settled in Breckenridge, where the locals appreciated his generous application of snow each winter. But gradually, they began to take his generosity for granted, and Ullr chose to leave the valley.The locals were aghast, and decided to woo him back with a festival in his honor.In 1963, a few locals lobbied to start Ullr Dag, and the parties began. For several years, gold coins good for a drink in participating bars were minted.
For years, the raucous festival was best known for its bonfire and parade.The parade often featured floats with themes of events – some of which were distasteful – that had occurred throughout the year. Thousands of people bundled up against the elements, imbibed in schnapps and other beverages, and lined Main Street cheering on Ullr and their favorite float.Regulars in the parade included the Breckenridge Ski Patrol that for a few years portrayed themes rebelling against the then-owner of the resort; vehicles dragging skiers behind them; scantily clad people lolling about in hot tubs; skiers jumping off a manmade ski slope into a pickup truck behind it and Dr. Craig “P.J.” Perrinjaquet tossing condoms to the crowd.
People attending the bonfire often brought furniture and skis to burn to honor Ullr. The bonfire was discontinued in the 1990s when participants became unruly; it has since been revived on a smaller scale at the new Nordic Center.As the years went on, other traditions were included in the event, including the Ullr Ball, the Ullympics and the Dating Game. The snow sculpting contest has become an event of its own and attracts people from throughout the world for the international championships.
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