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Town of Vail Marks 50 Years with Community Birthday Party, Tributes on Aug. 23

  • 22 August 2016
Town of Vail Marks 50 Years with Community Birthday Party, Tributes on Aug. 23
The Town of Vail is throwing a community birthday party on Tuesday, Aug. 23 - 50 years to the day it became a new town. The celebration will include a variety of tributes, highlighted by a community gathering from 4 to 6 p.m. at Donovan Park and Pavilion with activities for the entire family.

Former town council members, mayors, managers, long-time employees and other dignitaries will join in the festivities to celebrate their role in guiding Vail’s future throughout its five decades.

The day’s events include a public ceremony at 2 p.m. at Mayors Park in recognition of the 13 mayors who have served the town. The ceremony will include remarks from former mayor Rod Slifer and the unveiling of a new centerpiece for the park listing the names and terms of the 13 leaders. Mayors Park is located at the intersection of Vail Road and West Meadow Drive across from the Main Vail Fire Station.

Earlier in the day, the mayors, along with other past and present elected officials and managers, will gather for an honorary luncheon on Pepi’s deck in Vail Village, hosted by the current town council and town manager. Mayor Dave Chapin says he’s honored to welcome Vail’s former leaders to join in celebrating the community’s success. “The transfer of leadership through the years has taken great care to nurture the qualities that make Vail such a great place,” he said. “Our open space, parks, trails, flowers, pedestrian areas, transit system and so much more are our treasures that define us as a community. It is such an honor to follow in their footsteps.”

The celebration continues with a giant community birthday party at Donovan Pavilion from 4 to 6 p.m. The free activities include a family carnival presented by the Vail Recreation District, a children’s mural painting area featuring Vail’s iconic scenes, equipment and gear from Vail Fire & Emergency Services, photo booths, music, giveaways of souvenir pins, as well as refreshments, including cupcakes and ice cream.

Mayor Chapin is encouraging members of the extended community to stop by to join in the festivities to create Vail’s biggest neighborhood block party-ever. “This park was named for John F. Donovan for his love of community and his insistence that we set aside lands for public use,” he said. “I know he’ll be thrilled to see everyone come together to do just that.” Tricia Swenson from the Vail Daily and Tony Mauro from KZYR radio will be present to bring additional energy to the event as emcees. 

The afternoon’s ceremonies will begin at 5:15 p.m. when student musicians from E•ƒ(ec)’s Summer School of Rock Music Camp will sing a birthday song to Vail. A welcome by Mayor Chapin will follow with an introduction of the past and current town council managers and mayors, plus recognition of current and former town employees with 20 or more years of service. Congratulatory letters from Gov. John Hickenlooper, Colorado Municipal League, Colorado Association of Ski Towns and Vail Resorts will also be acknowledged. In addition, the birthday celebration will introduce a newly created civic award that will be presented annually by the town to recognize a significant action or contribution. The first recipient of the Vail Trailblazer Award will be announced on Friday, Aug. 19 with the formal presentation occurring at the birthday celebration on Aug. 23.

Rounding out the birthday party activities will be a trivia contest and a pair of raffle drawings for a chance to win a 2016-17 Blue Parking Pass and a Family Fun Package from the Vail Recreation District.

In addition, sales of 50th birthday commemorative coffee and chocolates will be available as a fund-raiser sponsored by the Friends of Vail Public Library. Other related activities associated with the Town of Vail’s 50th birthday will include a display in Vail Public Library’s Galleria profiling the special qualities of Vail with first-hand accounts from those responsible. A second display will be located in the library’s Community Room and will detail the history of the library which will be exhibited adjacent to the Vintage Vail Quilt which was created by a group of local women in 1982 to celebrate Vail’s first 20 years. The quilt has since been restored and is on permanent display in the Community Room of the library.  An oral history project is underway to capture, digitally, interviews of the quilters’ stories.

The 50 year celebration continues in September when the Vail Police Department hosts a reunion of current and former employees. Community activities are also planned and include an open house and scavenger hunt from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10 and a veteran’s appreciation picnic on Sunday, Sept. 11 at Donovan Pavilion.

While the community came together four years ago to celebrate the 50 year opening of Vail Mountain, Mayor Chapin says it’s important to celebrate the strength of the community and the role it has played in making Vail the premiere international mountain resort community we know today. “We’ve always said, ‘we can’t be a resort without the community and vice versa.’ This is a time to celebrate and enjoy all the wonderful things we love about Vail.”

Vail became a town 50 years ago on Aug. 23, 1966 when a handful of property owners voted 43-19 to incorporate as a municipality. For details on Vail’s history, visit or for additional information about the birthday events, contact the Town of Vail community Information office at 970-479-2115 or email

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