Carnival comes to a close

— As some people were taking advantage of the 94-inch base at the summit of Mount Werner, others were having a great time watching the action on the eight inches of packed power on Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat Springs.

For rancher Patsy Wilhelm, 2006 marked 57 years of participating in the Winter Carnival. She started pulling skiers down Lincoln Avenue on an old Tennessee walking horse named Susie when she was 9 years old. Four generations of her family have taken part in the carnival.

With 50 horses at her 500-acre ranch outside the city, horses are Wilhelm's livelihood, but participating in the 93rd annual Winter Carnival was just fun.

"That's why we do it," Wilhelm said. "It brings out the kid in us."

Wilhelm is a pro when it comes to the Winter Carnival, but it was the first carnival for Hickory, one of the four horses she brought.

"Once in a while, it was a little too much for his nerves," she said.

Nerves were not enough to keep 11-year-old Mary O'Connell from being pulled by a horse and jumping 45 feet to win the donkey jump competition.

"A little bit scary, but not really," Mary said after her jump.

Former Steamboat resident Mark Eitel returned to town to participate in the carnival. He won Saturday's shovel race.

"Last time I did this, I nearly hit the truck," Eitel said after riding a shovel being pulled by a horse. "It's a rush."

After the shovel races, stretch limousines, horses and treaded tractors pulled teams of at least four people holding onto ropes making diamond formations.

The Steamboat Springs High School marching band braved the cold, leading the parade on skis. A skiing marching band first appeared at the carnival in 1936, 22 years after the carnival began. The 1936 marching band likely encountered some of the same hurdles as today's band.

"Our valves freeze and they get kind of hard to play," freshman mellophone player Jonathan Mellor said.

"I think he was really worried about falling down," his father, Dale Mellor, said.

Sunday was the last day of this year's Winter Carnival, an event that began in 1914 as a way to bring the community together during the long Routt County winters.

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