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A quiet Christmas in Glenwood Springs

The high-pitched whine of a Japanese performance car punctured the still, quiet morning at the south end of Grand Avenue Christmas day. The noise faded as the little car with the wing-like spoiler sped north toward downtown.

A rattly Dodge diesel truck made the next racket as it roared north up Grand Avenue a few seconds later, then an empty RFTA bus silently eased onto the road from the Safeway parking lot and rolled south to Aspen.

Across Grand Avenue from Safeway, a flock of fat pigeons pecked away undisturbed in the frozen 19th Street Diner parking lot. To the east a block, the only sound in that part of Glenwood was the whirring of heating units on top of Valley View Hospital.



Like thousands of other cities and towns across the United States Christmas morning, Glenwood Springs was as quiet as it will ever be during daylight hours, and most streets were deserted.

One of the few signs of life was at the new St. Stephen’s Catholic church at 19th Street and Blake. Congregation members started pulling open the church’s massive wooden doors at 8:30 a.m., and by the time the service started at 9 a.m., well over 100 sat below the auditorium’s colorful ceiling murals that depict the life of Christ.



“We had 500 last night,” parishioner Bill Slattery whispered as Rev. Cliff McMillan waited to begin the mass.

“Good morning,” commentator Sharon Nieslanik said to the congregation from the pulpit. “Let us open our hearts and minds to the Messiah.”

After the hour-long service concluded, Slattery said he and his wife, Judy, were headed to Carbondale to visit her mother, Florence Munnik.

“We wanted to bring her, but she’s got the flu,” Slattery said.

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As the congregation filed out of St. Stephen’s at 10 a.m., the Hot Springs Pool sat steaming and undisturbed. There was not a parka-clothed lifeguard to be seen, and the parking lots were empty. That’s because the pool didn’t open until noon on Christmas day, three hours later than usual.

Buddy and Vykki Martin, of Sedalia, were in the first wave of soakers to enter the pool lobby at 12:01 p.m.

“We’ve been coming here all our lives,” Vykki said. “We came up last night, and are staying at the Silver Spruce. We’ll go back Saturday.”

It’s the soaking, skiing and hikes to Hanging Lake that keep bringing Vykki and Buddy back. Their only disappointment is that Andre’s restaurant and the Fireside Inn have closed.

“They served excellent meals,” Buddy said. “We’ll have to find some place else.”

Hot Springs Pool ticket cashier Linda Reed arrived in the lobby a few minutes before Buddy and Vykki, and had a smile ready as she started her work day. Reed remembers last Christmas as especially beautiful.

“It snowed Christmas Eve, then was sunny Christmas day,” she said.

Reed’s husband, Earl, also works at the Hot Springs Pool, but their shifts didn’t interfere with their Christmas gift giving. “We share our gifts all year long,” she said.

Christmas morning was cloudy and gray, but not too cold. One of the storm fronts the weatherman promised blew through town at about 11:30 a.m., but only dusted the streets with snow. Jo Ann Peaslee jumped right on it though, and wielded a broom to clear the sidewalk in front of her Western Hotel apartment on Cooper.

“I’m just doing this to help the owner,” Peaslee said. “She’s 90 years old and out of town.”

Peaslee did her sweeping in a blue sweater and slacks, while her mother, Lovie, peaked out from the Western Hotel lobby.

“Mom came down from Carbondale. It’s nice we get to spend the day together,” she said. “We’ll cook dinner, open presents, then probably watch a movie.”

On Christmas day, like every other day, one Amtrak train stops in Glenwood Springs headed east, and another headed west. One of the jobs of a bellman at the Hotel Colorado is to transport guests from the hotel, across the Colorado River, and to the train station.

“I like doing it,” said bellman Jason Glasge after he let off a family in front of the station.

“Merry Christmas, and you take care,” they told Glasge as he unloaded their bags on the sidewalk. “We enjoyed the hotel.”

“That’s nice to hear,” Glasge told the family, then moved toward the van to close its rear doors.

Glasge, a Colorado Springs native, has worked at the Hotel Colorado for three months, but spent 12 years in the service industry, 10 of those at Keystone.

“So I don’t mind working Christmas day,” he said. “I’m used to it.”

By the time the 1 p.m. eastbound Amtrak train chugged into Glenwood, the rest of the town was coming alive. One focal point was the Grand Avenue 7/Eleven. The parking lot was full, with a line at times out onto Grand Avenue. One guy even parked his Tahoe SUV on the gravel between the sidewalk and 11th Street.

Inside the 7-Eleven, the customers more often than not left the store with a “Merry Christmas” to the store clerks.

“It’s been pretty busy,” said store clerk Daniel Falk.

Falk was working the 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift. “I don’t really mind working it,” he quickly said as another wave of customers headed his way.

“I get off at 2 p.m. Then I’m going to eat dinner at my fiancee’s house,” he said with a smile. “Merry Christmas.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

lburton@postindependent.com


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