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Winter Park confronts logistics of throwing a party for 1,200 college students

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

What to do with 1,200 college students?

Apparently an outdoor hip-hop party until 2 a.m. is out of the question.

That’s the conclusion Winter Park Town Council came to Tuesday morning after discussing the venue for a concert to be held during Lifestylez College Week, which will take place Jan. 6 to 11.

“No matter where we put (the concert), you will hear it. It’s bass. It’s loud,” said Executive Director Catherine Ross of the Winter Park/Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce. “And I don’t want the whole town mad at us.”

This will be the first year Winter Park and the Fraser Valley will host 1,200 college students from Kansas and Missouri universities for College Week. All of the students are staying downtown during a time of year that’s typically quiet for businesses, and the Chamber hopes the event will rev up more business that week by offering lodging, activities and check-in downtown.

“(The students) have a couple of hours before they go to their rooms, so we want them to spend money downtown (during check-in),” Ross added. The Chamber is considering putting up a heated tent by the Visitor’s Center to provide a central check-in facility. The promoter expects all 1,200 students to show up within two hours, Ross said.

Part of the package deal by the promoter, Lifestylez, is to hold a hip-hop concert. Ross said there aren’t any indoor venues that can accommodate that many people, so the chamber is considering an outdoor tent near Cooper Creek Square.

That didn’t’ sit well with council members. Town Councilman Chris Seemann, who owns the nearby Viking Lodge, didn’t’ think the thumping of music until 2 a.m. would be good for business.

“I’ll have angry guests. Bass is an amazing thing ” it goes everywhere,” Seemann said. He suggested holding the concert at Winter Park Resort, or holding an outdoor concert until 10 a.m. and then providing parties afterwards in local bars and restaurants.

Ross said she has discussed the option with the resort, but the promoter feels strongly that college students won’t want to ride the bus to a concert. They’d rather attend an event that’s within walking distance, the promoter said. Seemann jokingly said that students would ride a camel if beer is involved.

Ross said this wasn’t the only roadblock she has encountered with this event. Restaurants hesitate blocking out three hours solely for college students because they fear losing money from other potential customers.

She added the community may need to ask itself for next year if this is the right event for Winter Park and the Fraser Valley.

“On face value it looked like a good thing to do, but there’s reasons why these things move around,” Ross said. “There are several ski areas that have hosted it who aren’t interesting in bidding for it anymore.”

Ross stressed she wants to work with the town and the community on the event to find a solution that works.

“It’s important to me that we’re all happy with what we’re doing.”

The Chamber estimates that the total amount of dollars spent in the community will be roughly $800,000 during the week-long event. The Chamber of Commerce sales council is contributing the $20,000 promoter fee to bringing the event to Winter Park and the Valley. The sales council is also contributing roughly $10,000 for evening events in town and tipsy taxi service every evening from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Activities for students include skiing and riding, a rail jam at Winter Park Resort, live music and a welcome party at Cooper Creek square with an outdoor movie screen.

” To reach Stephanie Miller, call (970) 887-3334, ext. 19601 or e-mail smiller@grandcountynews.com.


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