Pool the hot place to be for New Year’s revelry

Stina Sieg
Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

In the eyes of Kjell Mitchell, the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Hot Springs Lodge and Pool is a family affair.

And a locals’ thing. And an event for singles, old friends, seniors, couples and travelers.

“It’s for people looking for something a little different, new and unique,” he said. “I think it has its niche.”

Mitchell, chief executive officer and general manager for the pool, is one of many behind the celebration, which will run well past normal operating hours on Monday night. He described the event as a “potpourri of people” gathered in and around the springs, as they ring in 2008.

Though admittedly not much of a party person, Mitchell can see what keeps attendees coming back, year after year. He feels it’s the pool’s comfortable temperature, the mix of patrons ” and the staunch ban on alcohol ” that make swimmers feel so comfortable, if crowded.

“You don’t want to get out,” he said. “By the time of midnight, it’s like a can of sardines in the hot springs pool itself.”

For pool manager Kevin Hatch, this year marks the eighth season he’s coordinated the night. He echoed Mitchell’s sentiments, and described the multitude of boisterous partygoers, full of anticipation. He mentioned the steam, the splashing, but most of all, the noise. Historically, half an hour or so before he counts down to the new year, employees make sure everyone gets their own noisemaker.

The effect, he said, can be deafening ” but in a good way.

“It’s loud, but it’s fun loud,” he explained, seeming to understand the excitement. “There’s not too many places you can actually be outside, in the water, and not freeze.”

It was a combination of all of these factors, as well as a strong push from friends, that brought Shari DiDonato and her husband, Doug, out to the soiree in 1999. An executive secretary at the pool for the last 17 years, DiDonato said she saw then what the springs truly gives the community. Though people world-wide had been fearing the dreaded “Y2K” effect that year, at the pool, there was nothing but love.

“On that particular day, it was just fun to see all those people let that go,” she said. “It was just like all that was left behind.”

DiDonato reconnected with friends she hadn’t seen for a long while, and generally had a grand old time. Though she isn’t usually one for a big party, she reveled in what the celebration was all about.

How lovely it was, she said, to be soaking amongst “all generations of people together, celebrating a new beginning.”

As well as anyone, Mitchell knows that this peaceful image flies in the face of most partiers’ plans. To many, what is New Year’s Eve without booze? What is New Year’s Day without a hangover? To Mitchell, it’s plenty.

“You don’t need some liquid courage to be fun,” he said, chuckling. In his exact words: “There’s nothing wrong with being high on life.”

Contact Stina Sieg: 384-9111

Post Independent Glenwood Springs CO Colorado

WHAT: A New Year’s Eve bash

WHEN: All night Monday, until 1 a.m. Tuesday morning

WHERE: Hot Springs Lodge and Pool in Glenwood Springs

COST: $13 for adults and teenagers and $8.25 for children

WHY: It’s quite possibly the warmest way to spend New Year’s Eve in the valley.

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