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Intergalactic Snowdown launches five days of raucous fun

What is Snowdown?

Snowdown is billed as Colorado’s premier winter celebration – a cabin fever reliever. It is a nonprofit, five-day event meant to promote fun, commerce and tourism. Each year has a theme, meant to inspire games and costumes. This year’s theme is “Intergalactic” – which has morphed into “Durangalactic.”

How is the theme selected?

A contest is held each year to determine the theme two years out, in other words, ideas submitted this year will be for 2019. The Snowdown board of directors receives 50 to 75 entries per year and picks one during its annual retreat. The winning theme is announced in the Snowdown schedule of events, distributed about two weeks before Snowdown each year. The theme for 2018, Snowdown’s 40th anniversary, is “Still sporty at 40! Celebrating forty years of fun!”

Ideas for 2019 can be submitted at Magpies Newsstand, 707 Main Ave.; mailed to Snowdown, PO Box 1, Durango, CO 81301; or emailed to info@snowdown.org.

What is a can’t miss event?

The Snowdown Light Parade attracts more participants and spectators than any other event. It starts at dusk, or about 6 p.m. Friday, with a single firework. The 45-minute procession includes about 70 light-up floats that make their way along Main Avenue, from Fifth Street to 12th Street. Spectators are advised to dress warmly and park north of Main Avenue or somewhere along north Main Avenue and take a free trolley downtown.

How was Snowdown created?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... ’er wait. Actually, it all started 39 years ago as a way to increase economic activity and bring residents out of their winter humdrums. The Durango Chamber of Commerce, or a version of it at the time, teamed up with The Durango Herald to plan a winter festival that would offer fun, games and celebration. A brochure was printed and residents rejoiced. “It was a purely locals thing to do, and that’s the reason why it’s so wildly successful,” said Mike Smedley, former minister of propaganda and longtime participant. (Smedley also writes the weekly Action Line column for The Herald.)

Snowdown arrives every year as if by magic. Brochures appear, events get organized and it’s own newspaper, The Snowdown Sneer gets distributed around town. It is not beholden to anybody: It doesn’t receive funding from the city and no one person oversees its activities. “You want to be autonomous with everything that you do,” Smedley said. “When you pay your way, people can’t make demands.” During its 39 years, popular events have come and gone, but that has never changed or threatened the continuity of the event.

“It doesn’t rely on one thing or one person,” Smedley said. “It truly is a community effort.”

“I always crack up when people say, ‘You guys ought to ...’ and the response is, which guys are you talking about?

“For one weekend out of the year, you can pretty much say anything or do anything – within reason, of course. It’s just a ton of fun.”

For a complete schedule and ongoing coverage of Snowdown, go to durangoherald.com/snowdown: follow us on Twitter at @DurangoHerald, @Shane_Benjamin, @JonathanDHerald, @Jessica_DHerald, @jerryphotog, @DH_Shooter, and @maryshinn; and follow us on Instagram at durango_herald.

Snowdown schedule

Wednesday events

Fashion Do’s & Don’ts, noon- 2 p.m., Exhibit Building, La Plata County Fairgrounds, 2500 Main Ave., 749-9349.

Keg cap disc golf, 1 p.m., El Moro Spirits and Tavern, 945 Main Ave., 259-5555.

Family Feud Snowdown style, 2 p.m., Diamond Belle Saloon, 699 Main Ave., 247-4431.

Costume contest, 2 p.m., The Palace Restaurant, 505 Main Ave., 247-2018.

Bartender’s contest, 4 p.m., 39th annual contest, Moe’s Starlite Lounge, 937 Main Ave., 259-9018.

Intergalactic game gauntlet, 5 p.m., Ska Brewing Co., 225 Girard St., 247-5792. 2017 Kid’s Follies, 5 p.m., Durango Arts Center, 802 East Second Ave., 259-2606.

Spellebration, 5:30 p.m., Henry Strater Theatre, 699 Main Ave., 247-4431.

Bicycle roller races, 6 p.m., Irish Embassy Pub, 900 Main Ave., 403-1200, www.theirishembassypub.com.

Butt darts, 6 p.m., BREW Pub & Kitchen, 117 West College Drive, 259-5959.Cosmic light-speed relay, 6 p.m., Carver Brewing Co., 1022 Main Ave., 259-2545.

Euchre tournament, 6 p.m., VFW, 1550 Main Ave., 247-0384.

Intergalactic pinvasion, 6 p.m., J. Bo’s Pizza and Ribs Co., 1301 Florida Road, 259-0010.

Mardi bras for a cause, 6 p.m., Wild Horse Saloon, 601 East Second Ave., 799-8832.

Lady F’s Lunacy, 7 p.m., 22nd annual event, Lady Falconburgh’s Barley Exchange, 640 Main Ave., 350-6664.

Intergalactic Showdown at Derailed, 8:30 p.m.-midnight, Derailed Pour House, 725 Main Ave., 247-5440, www.derailedpourhouse.com.

Klackers tournament, 9:30 p.m., eighth annual event, Moe’s Starlite Lounge, 937 Main Ave., 259-9018.

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