Grand Lake welcomes back its Winter Carnival

The Grand Lake Village People, left, and KISS Girls sleds come together during a heat of the bed sled races at the Grand Lake Winter Carnival on Saturday, Feb. 1.
Byron Hetzler/ | Sky-Hi News

Grand Lake’s Winter Carnival returns March 4 with an appropriately wintery theme: Frozen. Shadowcliff Mountain Lodge took over the event’s planning from the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce this year and has a full day of activities planned.

Scott Merchant, Shadowcliff’s program and activities manager, said this year’s carnival will add unique twists to the event by adding new activities.

“I think it’s important that we always root back to tradition, and make sure to acknowledge those traditions, while also looking forward to what we can do next,” he said.

The first event of the day — a 10 a.m. Frozen sing-a-long with the Ice Queen at the Grand Lake Community House — is one of the new events. Registration for that and a few other capacity-limited activities is open on the carnival website. Merchant said the sing-a-long will have 100 seats available and is part of an effort to create a way for young kids to participate in the carnival.

Activities in Town Square Park come next on the agenda at 11:30 a.m., featuring winter putt putt golf, a kids snowman building competition, ice skating, cornhole and a kids and adults sled pull. Merchant said activities throughout the day will have prizes up for grabs. 

The Grand Lake Winter Carnival is back this year, and features plenty of kid-friendly activities.
Archive photo

“(Town Square activities) should end around 12:30 (p.m.),” Merchant said. “Everybody can go home and get a bite to eat, or go out and get a little bite to eat, warm up a little bit, and then at 1:30 p.m., we’re going to start the biggest spectacle.” 

The 1:30 p.m. spectacle will be the annual bed sled races, where teams race on a bed fastened to an old pair of skis down Grand Avenue between Pitkin Garfield streets. Grand Lake Public Works will close that part of the road, bring in extra snow and groom it similarly to how it grooms the town’s snowmobile trails.

The Rocky Mountain Wooden Boat School will build the bed sleds this year, instead of each team building their own like in previous years. The school will provide two to three beds that teams will use — and decorate, if they so choose, according to Merchant.

“We have two trophies for this race,” Merchant said. “The first one is who’s the fastest in the dead heat against each other … The second trophy that’s available is the most pizzazz. That’s the group that comes in with the best costumes and the best decorations that they can hang or drape around their bed sled.”

Besides being great entertainment, the bed sledding will also act as a fundraiser for the groups participating, which are all nonprofits. The races should finish and trophies should be awarded around 3 p.m.

Another break in the action follows, with the last event starting at 7 p.m. The Frozen Ball at Charlie’s Bar & Grill will feature a live DJ, fire spinning and fireworks over the frozen lake. Tickets are on sale online for $20 but will cost $30 at the door, and the ball is for those 21 and older.

“It’s going to be a beautiful night of enjoyment and celebration and getting to maybe dress up a little bit and enjoying each other’s company after a wonderful day,” Merchant said.

Merchant added that the ball’s dress code is “mountain formal” — meaning people can dress up as they like, but no special effort is required. 

At previous carnivals, attendees voted on a king and queen, but this year those honors will go to two people who have supported the carnival throughout the years, Merchant said.

Fireworks will start around 9 p.m., and the ball officially ends around 10 p.m. or 10:30 p.m., but Merchant said people will likely hang around and dance until midnight.

The Town of Grand Lake, especially its public works department, has been a great help in Shadowcliff’s first year of planning the carnival. The nonprofit only had a few months to plan the carnival, and Merchant said that while this year’s event will not feature all the traditional activities, Shadowcliff plans to add more activities next year.

“This year, we’re just trying to make sure that we can make each activity very successful,” he said.

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