Biff America: Keeping weird alive |

Biff America: Keeping weird alive

It was Christmas morning and the last thing I expected to see was some dude in his underwear.

And this wasn’t even in the comfort of my own home but rather on a ski slope at 8 a.m.

My bride and I agreed on a low-key holiday this year, with no tree and limited gifts. We decided on Christmas morning we would climb up the ski area before the lifts ran then go XC skiing later in the day when the temps warmed up.

After an early winter that has been as cold as Vladimir Putin’s heart, we were delighted to wake up and find the temps in the mid-teens. While ascending, we were gifted with perhaps the most amazing sunrise I have ever seen. I’m not religious, but I heard myself saying, “Happy birthday, God.”

At the high point, we stripped off our climbing skins and headed down. At the bottom of the run, I saw Ellie’s head swivel in a double take. Standing nearby was some guy in his underwear. Ellie gave him a big smile, and I did the same and said, “Hello, sexy!” 

At the time there were various employees — lifties, patrol, skier services — milling about starting their day. Surprisingly, other than my bride and me, few gave the guy a second look. Frankly, we couldn’t look away. The guy looked to be in his twenties and had the body fat of a claw hammer. We watched a female ski patroller, perhaps old enough to be his mum, approach him.

“What’s this all about?” she asked.

The guy answered, “I wanted to start a Christmas tradition by skiing one run in my underwear.”

The patroller responded, “That’s awesome!”

I hope that young buck follows through with that. We need more local traditions, and we also need to fight to keep the ones we still have left.

Much effort has been made to cause our mountain towns to be wonderful places to visit, where guests feel welcomed and enjoy an awesome experience. The towns host great events for this result. There also have also been a fair amount of under-the-radar local events where guests are welcome but the fun factor takes precedent over image.

Over the years, various local traditions and festivals have come and gone: “The Anchovies,” ‘”he Pub Crawl,” “Fatty’s Golf Tournament,” “The Bump Buffet.”

And, included in community-sponsored events there has always been local participation with an irreverent feel.

Looking back on Breck’s Ullr Fest and various July Fourth parades over the years, there was — and still are — local floats that are long on sarcasm and short on political correctness. There have been floats parodying presidents, popes and politics. Reverend Jim and the agnostic church come to mind. Little was deemed sacred.

In the late ’70s Dave drove his 1967 Pontiac Catalina from his midwest college to Summit County. Soon after arriving, he decided he needed a better winter vehicle. He bought a Jeep but kept the Pontiac registered and then he and a few buddies painted it avocado-green with a broom and created a rumble seat with a hack saw. It was baptized “Green.”

Green was the official pace car of the Breck Pub crawl and appeared in parades for over a decade.

The theme of green would lampoon politics and events, both local and not. One year they had a guy tied to a chair on the roof with a colander on his head with wires sticking out and called it the “Frying Ted Bundy.” Rather than throwing out candy to the crowd, they tossed raw hamburger. There were also floats mocking, Muammar Gaddafi, Gary Hart, Jim and Tammy Baker and Jimmy Swaggart.

Green is long gone — as is all but one of the culprits. Some of the local events died a natural death while others from public safety and liability concerns.

But, I maintain — in addition to our scenery, recreation, arts, events and activities — a major attraction of Summit are the locals who not only service our guests but provide an iconoclastic fun-loving color to our community.

There are still some creative and edgy floats in our parades and various bootleg events that you have to be in the know to know about. There is the topless ski down the front bowl on closing day, the summer solstice and July 4th ski parties complete with booze, music and skin. And a few other celebrations that are on a need-to-know basis.

Though we have gone from a fledgling to a world-class resort, I hope the new breed of locals maintains the mantle of keeping that edge that has kept our mountain home non-homogenized and an amazing place to both live and visit.

Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at

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