What with Mother Nature’s disappointing performance last New Year’s Eve, the resilient folks at Drive Smart Evergreen-Conifer have come up with a festive plan that should effectively weatherproof the mountain area’s premier holiday blowout.
“After last year, we didn’t want to ever have a reason to cancel again,” says Drive Smart’s executive director, Jackie Mohr. “This year, it’s the Skate the Lake Winter Festival, and it’ll be a lot of fun no matter what the weather does.”
Though still in the planning stages, Skate the Lake’s new concept will provide the same family-friendly and alcohol-free winter diversions that have become a New Year’s tradition for families from Fort Collins to Franktown, plus a range of shore-mounted entertainments that don’t need a freeze to please.
“The entire parking lot will be closed for the festival,” Mohr says. “There’ll be three age-specific jump-castles for kids of all ages, face painting, a variety of carnival games, and fire pits on and off the ice for roasting marshmallows. There’ll also be a lot more vendors and a 40-by-40 dance floor with a DJ. We’ll have speakers mounted at the festival and on the lake so everyone can hear the music.”
And Skate the Lake’s indispensable pyrotechnic finale?
“Just in case, we’re building a floating platform so we can still launch fireworks from the lake, no matter what.”
If Skate the Lake is growing broader in scope, it’s growing longer, too. This year, instead of folding up after the last bars of “Auld Lang Syne,” the merriment will recommence at noon on Jan. 1, 2008.
“We’re doing a Polar Plunge,” Mohr explains. “Dick Wulf at Park and Rec said he always wanted to see one at Evergreen Lake, so we’re doing it to benefit Drive Smart and the EPRD special needs programs. The cost is $25 apiece to take the plunge, but if you’d rather not jump in, you can always pay $25 to watch me do it,” she says, selflessly.
When warm temperatures and sloppy ice conditions sank last year’s annual skating spectacular, they also sent an anticipated $40,000 up in smoke and put the big chill on Drive Smart’s budget. Since its founding in 1995, Skate the Lake has almost single-handedly funded a host of safety programs, including Buckle Bear seat-belt education, high school driver safety courses, local safety fairs and driver education scholarships. Figured conservatively, last December’s semi-tropical heat wave cost the nonprofit something over $30,000.
But if Skate the Lake is the organization’s biggest paycheck, it isn’t the only one. Besides an opportune $4,800 boost from last summer’s first-ever Drive Smart Golf Classic at Hiwan Golf Club and a $2,300 Click it or Ticket grant, a diverse crowd of civic-minded mountain-area residents stepped in to help fill the financial void.
“Blue Spruce Kiwanis raised nearly $1,000 for us at the Rodeo Parade pancake breakfast, and Mountain Foothills Rotary made a $2,600 donation from their Ice Melt Contest,” Mohr says. “Mary Richards of Coldwell Banker raised about $600 selling leftover safety kits, and Café DeLucca made about $600 for us by selling a bunch of our 2006 Skate the Lake sweatshirts.
“A woman named Lorna Pattison made a very generous $500 donation through Mile High United Way, and we got about $900 in private donations. People really came through for us, and I think that shows how important they consider our mission.
“I think what was neatest was the way kids helped us out. A middle-school student named Josh Vieira collected $515 all by himself, and a student named Tim Patterson raised $135 by selling sweatshirts around the high school. It’s just phenomenal to me when kids do stuff like that.”
Though New Year’s Eve has offered favorable skating conditions on Evergreen Lake in nine of the last 10 years, the retooled 2007 Skate the Lake Winter Festival should net a welcome surplus in both family fun and Drive Smart funds come snow or come shine.
“We truly have something for everybody this year,” Mohr says. “And, if you want to know, my Magic 8-ball has determined that there’ll be perfect skating weather on New Year’s Eve.”
To learn more about Drive Smart Evergreen-Conifer or to inquire about sponsoring the Skate the Lake Winter Festival, call 303-674-9683 or visit www.drivesmarte-c.org. Tickets will be available on that site beginning Nov. 1.
Contact staff writer Stephen Knapp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720-261-1665.