Ice Castles in Green Mountain Falls?

GMF Leaders Seeking Ways to Spruce Up Winter Activity

Rick Langenberg

The idea of Ice Castles landing their iconic winter fantasy displays in the town of Green Mountain Falls,or using the community’s facilities as an alternative site in the near future, captured the fancy of local elected leaders last week.

In fact, the suggestion definitely raised a few eyebrows during a brief meeting of the GMF Trustees on Feb. 20.

“Ice Castles coming to Green Mountain Falls?  Why not”? questioned Trustee Nick Donzello, who did an extensive tour recently of the Colorado attraction, which is currently located in Cripple Creek, just off the main street.

According to Donzello, he mentioned the possibility of a GMF site to a key Ice Castles supervisor and received a warm response.

“They are looking for a larger area,” said Donzello. He sees GMF as a prime choice for the company if they want to obtain a larger customer base. “They are looking for other places,” added Donzello, in describing the input he received from recent conversations with Ice Castles personnel.

He plans to pursue this idea more and also seek the help of area nonprofits, such as Green Box and Building Ute Pass Community. “It would definitely be part of a partnership,” said Donzello, in describing any future Ice Castles venture in GMF.

In the last few years, Green Mountain Falls has taken major strides in trying to attract more tourists and visitors, with its signature art displays and a several-week summer festival. Also, its relatively new Green Mountain Falls Skyspace exhibit (representing a mini-mountain planetarium) has become one of 80 such sites in the world, highlighting the work of artist James Turrell.

But winters still have become the main stumbling block for the town’s pursuit of becoming more of a destination area. Green Box has taken a lead role in expanding their activities on a year-round basis.

“This would fit well with what we are trying to do in bring more special events and activities to the area,” said Nancy Dixon, a leader of Building Ute Pass Community, a new nonprofit that has taken control of the annual Bronc Day festival, following last week’s meeting.  “We really need something in the winter.”

A cure for winter-blues
Is an Ice Castles-like attraction the answer in addressing winter blues for GMF?

That question would involve much research, say local leaders.

In any case, Donzello cited the town’s park areas as a prime Ice Castles location. He also believes the town could scale the main hurdles involved in becoming an Ice Castles site, namely water availability and access.

No timeline was stipulated at last week’s discussion.  Donzello said he plans to move forward with the possibility of bringing Ice Castles to GMF, and wants to have more formal discussions.

The trustee raved about the attraction in Cripple Creek but mentioned the drive to and from the gaming community in the evening as quite challenging in the winter for many visitors.  “It can be pretty treacherous,” said the trustee. He recounted his own journey there during a recent weekend, with motorists pulling off the road in large volumes due to a surprise snowstorm.

He said he wasn’t aware of any details of the current arrangement Ice Castles has with the city of Cripple Creek, and cautioned that they aren’t trying to snag the event. In fact, the believes the company is planning to remain in Cripple Creek for its Colorado site for at least another year. Donzello cited this idea as a future plan for GMF.

However, the idea could encounter a few logistic issues.

“Parking would be the major issue,” stated GMF Mayor Todd Dixon.

Donzello, though, contends this obstacle could be overcome. He mentioned the facilities available with the Joyland Church parking lot.

The idea definitely got the attention of his fellow peers. Katharine Guthrie cited “ice farms” in Ouray as a drawing card their community uses in the winter to turn a relatively slow time into a bustling period.

Last week’s discussion further propelled an idea that has received growing support these days in GMF: Dong more to generate winter commerce and activities. Recently, the winter uses of the lake at the Gazebo have been expanded to include ice fishing. Green Box officially also had mulled a major day-long event at the lake recently but had to scrap plans to the weather.

In other GMF news, town leaders gave the go-ahead for a contract with CMS of Colorado Springs, Inc., for the Gazebo bridge reconstruction and rehabilitation and additional ADA enhancements. The work should start soon, with a slated completion date around Memorial Day.

It is part of a community block grant the town received from El Paso County. The project is definitely needed as the bridge, originally built in 1991, is currently in dire straits condition.