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Relax and enjoy Durango’s annual midwinter revelry for what it is

For 36 years, Durango has used the last weekend in January as an opportunity to break the winter doldrums by throwing a no-holds-barred celebration of brash, bawdy, gaudy, silly, sporting and gross. Like it or not, Snowdown is here, and, despite attempts to whitewash it, the annual festival, once again, remains true to its roots: It is a five-day suspension of decorum that, for all its less-offensive activities, is fun for exactly that reason. We might as well embrace it because safari, so good.

How else can a newspaper committed to conveying a full, fair and accurate account of things depict a festival whose signature events – Follies, Fashion Do’s & Don’ts, Lady F’s Lunacy, Outlaw Josie Pete’s Golf Tournament and the Snowdown Light Parade – start at PG-13 and sprint quickly downhill from there? The jokes are raunchy, the outfits racy, the libations liberal, and it is all in good fun. Missing from these events is an excess of wholesome family goodness, but that does not mean Snowdown has nothing to offer the younger-than-18 set – booze notwithstanding.

There is certainly more than enough for those with easily offended sensibilities. A feline fashion show, chili cookoff – conveniently timed and located in tandem with a Bloody Mary contest – hands-free ice cream rolling race, Spam-carving contest, doggie Olympics and electric-toothbrush races are just a few of the family-friendly options, but clean as they may be, these events are infused with the same silliness and creativity that make the edgier events such fun – well, that and the booze.

It is Snowdown’s enduring irreverence that defines the celebration, regardless of the particular event’s target audience. Sure, after dark – or sometimes at a luncheon – things can get a little bawdy, but it is a somewhat higher-brow lewdness: one that is tied to a theme, requires a bit of creativity to pull off well and in general is demonstrative of a well-developed sense of humor. Costumes are clever. Parade floats are, too, and elaborate to boot. The jokes are riotous. We all lighten up a bit and have a good time – some have too good a time; others not enough. The world keeps turning.

Love or hate Snowdown, it is a Durango institution that deserves kudos for its consistent delivery of slight-to-full off-color humor that spares no one – elected officials, serious newspapers, community dignitaries or local real estate agents: no one – from its sites. By that same token, though, all of the above and more are encouraged to find some element of Snowdown to celebrate. There is more than enough to choose from.

As for the Herald editorial board, we will once again strive to set aside our curmudgeonly, opinionated tendencies and kick up our hooves for the 36th annual Snowdown. If we do not make it all the way through this week’s issues of The Economist or The New Yorker, it probably will be OK. A little outrageous fun, once a year, is good for everyone. Happy Snowdown.

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