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Why is there no Skating? Staying Safe on New Year’s Eve

A letter concerning Skate the Lake New Year's Eve Festival, Written by Skate the Lake Event Manager Jackie Mohr. 


Hey folks!

I am the Skate The Lake New Years Eve Festival Event Manager. As many of you have already heard, the lake is closed for skating at this time. This is my 15th year planning this iconic Evergreen tradition and then add a few more years that I attended as a volunteer and patron! I've seen it all over the years. I was there when it was cancelled in 2005 due to a slushy surface on top of 14" of ice. Thank goodness for our Zambini/Zamboni! That problem will never be an issue again! I stepped back from Skate The Lake in 2016 and was brought back in by Betsy Hays and the Evergreen Chamber of Commerce in 2018. My goal was to come up with a PLAN A, B, C and D to ensure Skate the Lake would never be cancelled again. And what a challenge that was!

It looked a little something like this:

Plan A: Our favorite community Norman Rockwell Painting New Years Eve Tradition. Ice Skating, Pond Hockey, Fire Pits and Marshmallow Roasting, A Spectacular Fireworks Show, Food, Music, Putt Putt Golf, Games and more! Volunteers managed by Marie Lynch, Outdoor Design Manager Andy Smith creating bigger and better activities with his family. Dave Krieves leading the charge with sturdy event promotion signage that he dug into frozen ground to put up in our (sometimes cold and windy in December) community. And of course my family who lets just be honest was 'Voluntold' to help out with the event planning and execution since 2005!

Plan B: Poor ice conditions that would result in No skating. No Problem! Our New Year's Eve celebration would become a 'Street Party' in the parking lot of the Lakehouse! Music, Great Food, Fire Pits with Marshmallow Roasting, A Spectacular Fireworks Show, Putt Putt Golf, Jumping Castle, Games and more!

Plan C: No Fireworks Show as a result of high winds &/or high fire danger. No Problem! Ice Skating, Pond Hockey, Fire Pits, Marshmallow Roasting, A Spectacular Knock-Off Fireworks Show provided by wrangling in all First Responder vehicles available at 8 pm to do a 'Countdown' completed by a vast array colorful lights atop Sheriff's vehicles, State Patrol vehicles, Evergreen Fire/Rescue vehicles and all other neighboring agencies that wanted in on the action!, Food, Music, Putt Putt Golf, Jumping Castle, Games and more!

Plan D: No Fireworks Show and No Ice Skating as a result of high winds &/or high fire danger and poor ice conditions. No Problem! Our New Year's Eve celebration would become a 'Street Party' in the parking lot of the Lakehouse! Food, Music, Putt Putt Golf, Games, Jumping Castle and more! Fire Pits and Marshmallow Roasting, A Spectacular Knock-Off Fireworks Show provided by wrangling in all First Responder vehicles available at 8 pm to do a 'Countdown' completed by a vast array colorful lights atop Sheriff's vehicles, State Patrol vehicles, Evergreen Fire/Rescue vehicles and all other neighboring agencies that wanted in on the action!

This year we began planning for the 24th Annual Skate The Lake New Year's Eve Festival in late April/early May. We knew it was going to be our best year yet. After all, the year prior when the Evergreen Chamber took on Skate The Lake New Year's Eve Festival after Drive Smart, the creators of Skate The Lake gave up the event. We pulled it together last year in 3 VERY short months and it was the best it had ever been! BUT this year, 2019 would be my year to hone my craft. To be on top of everything months ahead of schedule! To secretly let my Type A freak flag fly while my type B side takes all the credit. I'll make it look like planning the 24th Annual Skate The Lake New Year's Eve Festival was easy peasy!

One hot and sunny day in late September I got a call from Betsy informing me that there was a chance the bridge at the entrance of the Evergreen Lakehouse parking lot off of Upper Bear Creek Rd would be under construction during Skate The Lake this year. My first reaction was "Oh no! What will the community do if they can't ice skate this winter? How will the local businesses survive without the holiday shoppers that drop their kids off at the lake before they invest their time & money in our local shops and restaurants?" My second reaction was, "Bring IT! I'll give you a PLAN E!" Secretly knowing we'll never use it.

That got me going. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good challenge. After getting this news, my first call was to my friend, Master Trooper Piney Harris with Special Event Permitting with Colorado State Patrol. He and I go way back. Every year for Skate The Lake we pull a special event permit with State Patrol. He keeps our event honest and safe. I took him to coffee not much after our first call. Needless to say his jaw dropped at the sight of my handmade plans to close Highway 74 from the fishing parking lot to the top of the dam for the 24th Annual Skate The Lake New Year's Eve Festival Giant Street Party! Of course what that really meant was closing hwy 74 to through traffic from south of Christ The King Church to the intersection of Hwy 74 & Hwy 73. Gulp. Double Gulp. Together we covered as many 'what ifs' and 'don't forget about' and 'you'll need to...'. I went back to my desk and formally applied for a new and different special event permit. Who would even think to close Highway 74 on one of the most magical of nights and one of the most dangerous nights for drinking and driving! Well, that would be me. I really wasn't worried because I knew if we planned for Plan E, then we would spend all this time reinventing the event but we wouldn't need to use that plan. I just knew this was going to be another Plan A Norman Rockwell painting of Skate The Lake in 2019. I was (and honestly still am) so glass 1/2 full that my cup runeth over.

Fast forward to this morning as Betsy and I led a Skate The Lake planning meeting with Heart, EPRD Grounds Supervisor, Ellen, Executive Director of EPRD, Stacy, Lakehouse Supervisor, Adam, Lakehouse Special Events Coord, Phil, Superintendent of Evergreen Golf Course and Jeff, Planner with Denver Parks, Golf Division. We went through as many scenarios (Including Plan A, B, C, D and E) as we could think of to make this work. After all, EPRD is losing money with skating closed during the holidays AND they are bearing the brunt of the complaints in the community for something that they have NO Control Over. It was time to call a spade a spade. We officially declared Plan E.

Sigh. Sniif, Sniff.

Ok, Pity party ended about 30 seconds later. Who would Evergreen be if we didn't persevere during hard times! We always come through! So why should reinventing the 24th Annual Skate The Lake New Year's Eve Festival, the LARGEST Outdoor Family-friendly, Alcohol Free New Year's Eve event in Colorado be any different! In case you were wondering, this is where you insert "GIANT STREET PARTY!"

A little history on Skate The Lake. This event was created by Cheryl Ladd and other founders of Drive Smart 24 years ago as an fun event for the community and to give teens around here something safe to do on New Year's Eve (Side Note: There was never anything this safe to do on New Year's Eve when I was a teenager. If there was, no one told me!) Did you know that since the inception of Skate The Lake 24 years ago, we haven't had a motor vehicle fatality in our mountain community on New Year's Eve? Knock on wood. (I always do.) We can't let this fabulous event be cancelled just because of a little 'freeze on ice skating' this year!

I hope by now you are ready to click on the link in this post and buy your tickets to the 24th Annual Skate The Lake New Year's Eve GIANT STREET PARTY Festival! We will be there. Will you? (Everyone who is anyone will be there.) Even if they are part of our families and are Voluntold to be there!

Tickets make great stocking stuffers and can be purchased locally at Cactus Jack's Saloon & Grill • RE/MAX Alliance Evergreen (Official Ticket Sponsor!) • Boone Mountain Sports • EChO Resale & Home Furnishings Store • Wulf Rec Center • Buchanan Rec Center • Evergreen Chamber of Commerce

While you cannot expect to skate, this is what you CAN EXPECT this year:

A portion of the proceeds will go to 5 outstanding local nonprofits- Alpine Rescue, Bootstraps College Scholarships, Drive Smart, EAPL and EChO Food Bank.

VISUALIZE this. There will be a 1/4 mile of activities, games, food and more! The event will take place on Hwy 74 approximately 300-400' east of the fishing parking lot all the way to approximately 300-400' west of the top of the DAM and will include multiple areas to have fun with friends and family including but not limited to:

• 4 Denver Bronco Corn Hole games

• 2 Giant Jenga stations

• 4 basketball shooting hoops with score keeping

• 18 holes (in 2 stations of 9 holes) of putt putt golf played with hockey sticks and tennis balls

• Giant Toy Story jumping castle for younger kids

• 4 giant (4' tall) ring toss games

• 2 Giant Connect 4 (4' tall!) games

• 2 Shuffleboard tables

• 8-10 fire barrels manned with volunteers with marshmallows and skewers

• Spectacular fireworks display by Tri State Fireworks with a New Years Eve Countdown at 8:00 pm overlooking the infamous Evergreen Lake

• Music by Peyton Thomas

• Dancing by YOU!

• Ice sculpture (4 options can be voted on by the public via the Evergreen Chambers Facebook page later this week! Our Ice Sculptor is Mike, former Evergreen resident and owner of Colorado Ice Works -Sculptures and Cocktail Ice -Sculptures and Cocktail Ice and the design options were designed by our ice scultpure sponsor and long time Evergreen resident, Todd Chocol, owner of Bear Creek Design Group

• Characature artist, Pam Rhoads

• Instagram photo frame

• 60’ lighted tunnel at the entrance with carpeted train track leading to a 15’ photo backdrop of the Polar Express train

• 15’ photo backdrop with a clock

• 15’ photo backdrop with a sandy beach & palm tree

• 15’ photo backdrop with a 2020 theme

• 5 food vendors (please see event website for list)

• Fire trucks and other first responders vehicles on display.

• 2020 sunglasses/eyeglasses for the first 1,200 attendees

• Glow sticks & chapstick provide by our title sponsor, Bryan Caldwellwith the Caldwell Insurance Agency

AND MUCH MORE!!!!

So after all this juicy information, I ask you (rhetorically of course), if there is no skating on Evergreen Lake does New Year's Eve still even happen? The answer is YES!!!

The truth is, we cannot provide our nonprofits with noteworthy donations if we don't have your support. Even if you cannot make it I hope you will do your part to squash any negative commentary on social media and out in the community. Share the event website on your personal social media page. www.evergreenchamber.com/skate-the-lake/ You can always volunteer in days leading up to the event, day of and after the event. You can buy tickets for others too.

Thank you all in advance for supporting one of Evergreen's most iconic traditions. This event truly is For The Community, By The Community.

P.S. This road closure will divert local traffic to downtown Evergreen and visa versa via Douglas Park Rd and Meadow Dr from 3 pm to midnight. Local traffic will flow through to the businesses in Willow Creek Restaurant At Evergreen Lake.Coal Mine Dragon-Evergreen, Keys On The Green and the businesses in Lake Point Center as well as residential access ONLY via the Upper Bear Creek corridor throughout the night.

P.S.S. We always need volunteers! Please contact Marie Lynch

P.S.S.S Do you have any of the following supplies laying around that you'd like to donate to Skate The Lake? We could use more Astro Turf, 2x4s, 2x10s, big sturdy wine crates, barricades, orange fencing, hockey sticks, hand warmers, orange vests, extension cords, power cords, chafing dishes, giant orange trash bags, bottled water for volunteers, lighters, lighter fluid... just to name a few!

P.S.S.S.S. For more information about this event, feel free to call/text me at 720-971-0144 or email at jackiemohr@evergreenchamber.org OR call my friends BetsyGwendoline, Clair and Patti at the Evergreen Chamber Office at 303-674-3412. ALSO visit the link provided!

P.S.S.S.S.S. Please forgive my typos, incorrect grammar and run-on sentences! Typing with passion and A.D.D. can be tricky at times!