The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, one of the largest and oldest winter sports clubs in the U.S., hosts the 101st Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival, the oldest continuing Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi. For several days, the entire town is given over to racing, ski jumping, a parade featuring Steamboat’s skiing high school band (the only one in the United States), the famous ski jöring events down Lincoln Avenue, and the spectacular night show featuring the legendary Lighted Man & fireworks display.
Steamboat Springs’ Winter Carnival is an event steeped in tradition. The Winter Carnival began in 1914, 29 years after Steamboat Springs was founded, to alleviate the pressures of enduring the cold and sometimes too lengthy winters in Routt County. The event is historically held every year in the second week in February no matter what weather conditions are bestowed by Mother Nature.
Sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWC) to assist athletic programs, the Winter Carnival is produced by volunteer efforts. As is true with so many events in Steamboat Springs, the volunteers facilitate and coordinate the Winter Carnival solely as a service to the community.
In its early years, a handful of events included ski jumping and cross country ski races. The street events were added in the 2nd Annual Winter Carnival. The event has come quite a long way since its inception in 1914 when the first Winter Carnival was held on Wood Chuck Hill (the current location of the Colorado Mountain College campus). Today hundreds of participants and thousands of spectators take part in a variety of alpine, Nordic, freestyle, snowboarding and other unique events at venues throughout town.
The Lighted Man tradition began in 1936 with Claudius Banks. However, The first night show event in which the Lighted Man appeared wasn’t until 1939. His outfit weighed more than 100 pounds. His suit had 200 lights and was powered by wet cells and yards of wiring.
In 1970, Jon Banks joined his father Claudius, and there were 2 lighted men for several years. Jon still serves as the lighted man today. Today, the suit that is powered by a 12-volt D.C. gas recombination battery consists of 32 Roman candles, 12 sky rockets and a metal cylinder mounted on a football helmet studded with flashing lights. The costume weighs 70 pounds. It takes about five o six people to put the entire outfit on Jon Banks, The Lighted Man.
The Street Events which are coordinated by the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association are one of the most popular events of the week long Winter Carnival. As long as there is winter in Routt County, the Chamber and the SSWC look forward to continuing the tradition and winter celebration of the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival.
For a complete schedule of events, visit http://www.steamboat-chamber.com/signature-events/winter-carnival.