Glenwood’s Hotel Colorado kicks off holiday season |

Glenwood’s Hotel Colorado kicks off holiday season

Stina Sieg
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Pushing her cart, heavy with paint and brushes, artist Angela Rose Drake at first stuck out against the holiday opulence of Hotel Colorado’s lobby. Her clothes were muddy with pigments but her hair was perfectly coifed, and from behind big-rimmed glasses, her eyes were shining.

“I just feel like I belong here!” she said, with a high-powered laugh.

And, in truth, she does. Drake, known as “Angie” around the hotel, she has been painting holiday scenes on its windows and mirrors for nearly two decades. Every year, she travels from her home in Grand Junction to the Glenwood Springs establishment, where she joins countless employees and volunteers. Together, they give the place its annual holiday makeover ” a look which will be formally unveiled tonight during the annual lighting ceremony.

For Drake, her connection to the event is a personal one. She said that sometimes, when she’s out of her work clothes, she’ll stand by one of her pieces ” and just listen to the reaction of those standing around it. If they “ooh” and “ah” over her angels or snowmen, her job is done.

“I would hope they would feel the love that goes into my painting,” she said, “because I love what I do.”

Though Drake has a been involved with this tradition longer than most, she was only one of many scrambling around the building last Friday. Taking a moment away from directing volunteers, Kerry Koeping and Janet Koelling explained why they’ve been designing the decorations for the last 16 years.

“We like to see the smiles on the children’s faces,” offered Koelling, as she glanced around, keeping her eye on everything.

“That’s it,” Koeping agreed, doing his impression of a wide-eyed child. “That’s why you do this.”

Larry MacDonald, who has been the hotel’s general manager for five years, was walking briskly from room to room, solving last-minute problems and talking on his cell phone. Every year, he said, the preparation for the Pageant of Lights is a challenge: weeks of work that a culminate in the hour and a half display of lights, fireworks and Santa sightings.

“At the end of all that, when the fireworks are done, you look back at the past 30 days, and it’s very emotional,” he said.

He feels he’s following in the footsteps in David Storm, president and founding partner of Providence Hospitality Partners, which owns the hotel. When MacDonald first started, Storm pulled him aside, impressing upon his the importance of the event.

“The message was to make it better and better every year,” said MacDonald.

He added that both he and Storm bring their families to the hotel every year to work alongside volunteers. Of course, he stressed, none of them take it lightly.

“It’s an honor to be responsible to keep the history of the hotel alive. I can’t think of a greater privilege,” he said, getting ready to delve into another project.

Meanwhile, Drake was on another floor, finishing up some of the 40 or so windows for which she’d been commissioned. She was excited, getting ready to drive home to her family and her new beau, with whom she would be spending her holidays.

Earlier, though her words hadn’t mirrored MacDonald’s exactly, the emphasis was the same. When asked why she returns to the hotel, year after year, she replied that it isn’t for her own benefit. It’s for the community.

“It makes me feel so good that they enjoy it so much,” she had said, adding a smiling face to a painted angel.

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