WP Resort: Making a Splash since the ’60s

Rachel Rannow / Mountain Musings
Winter Park, CO Colorado
Skiers have been launching over the pond at the base of Winter Park Resort in front of the balconly house, built in 1955, for decades. Pictured here is a scene from 1960. Photo courtesy of the Grand County Historical Association

WINTER PARK – Muddy boots, big smiles, crazy costumes and lots of laughter: these are just a few of the highlights found at the annual Winter Park Resort Spring Splash celebration.

Regardless of the weather, folks turn out in droves to brave the obstacle course on Larry Sale trail and chilly waters of the Splash pool, listen to great music and reflect on the season. The vibe of Splash is relaxed and casual, and in anticipation of the fun to be had, many businesses close or limit hours on the day of Splash so employees and owners may join in the festivities. As we look forward to another closing weekend, I can’t help but wonder: where and how did Spring Splash come about?

Officially, the first year of Spring Splash was 1968. However, the event’s roots reach further back in history. Spring Splash as it exists today originates from an event called Geländesplash (Gelände is the German word for terrain).

“Prior to 1968, Geländesplash was held informally and sporadically in the spring. It was a weekend event that included a beer chugging contest, dual slalom race, t-shirt contest, and splash race,” explains Steve Hurlbert, public relations and communications manager for Winter Park Resort. “For the first few years, the event was actually known as Geländesplash until the name was changed to Spring Splash in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s.”

Splash has taken on many different incarnations through the years. However, the basic premise, a celebration of spring, has remained unchanged. “As in the inaugural Spring Splash, participants don costumes and descend through an obstacle course before plunging into an icy pond. It continues to be one of our most popular and eagerly awaited events each season,” says Hurlbert.

This season marks the 45th annual Spring Splash, and what originated as a day of celebration has evolved into a weekend-long affair. Winter Park Resort teamed up with the Winter Park and Fraser Chamber of Commerce to kick closing weekend festivities up a notch. April 19-21 marks the first annual Springtopia festival, a free two-day music and skiing/ snowboarding bash.

“Spring Splash continues to be an organic event,” states Hurlbert. “The way it looks today will likely be different than what it looks like five years from now.”

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