Steamboat Springs gondola carriage to appear in Houston parade

Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association employees Morgan McDougald, right, and Maren McCutchan spruce up the Chamber’s gondola carriage that will be featured in the Houston Holiday Parade on Thanksgiving Day.

— The Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association is bringing the Winter Carnival to the Lone Star State during the Houston Holiday Parade on Thanksgiving Day.

To help market the celebration of the 100th Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival in February, the Chamber has entered a float in the parade, which is attended by 400,000 people and broadcast on TV stations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma.

Not having a giant inflatable Billy Kidd float at her disposal, Chamber public relations manager Michelle Kreissig is leaving Friday to drive to Texas to bring the Chamber’s gondola carriage that regularly appears in Steamboat’s July 4 parade.

To keep costs down, the Chamber has recruited the help of a team of horses and an ice skating club from the Houston area to accompany the float. In addition to the clydesdales pulling the carriage, five horses will be used to help recreate Winter Carnival events. Members of the ice skating club will be wearing rollerblades and participating in mock shovel race and skijoring events. The Chamber still is working to find a known face to wave from the carriage with its vintage gondola car.

“Not many people see a gondola coach, so it’s kind of different,” Chamber CEO Tom Kern said.

Kreissig said the promotion was made possible with a $10,000 grant from the Colorado Tourism Office. The grant was matched with $2,000 contributions from the Chamber, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, lodging companies and the city of Steamboat Springs.

The Chamber hopes the promotion will draw people to the Chamber’s website and result in an increase in social media traffic and bookings to Steamboat. Kreissig said Steamboat Central Reservations has put together a vacation package deal for the Winter Carnival weekend of Feb. 6 to 10.

In addition to the spectators on the parade route, the Chamber hopes to reach a large audience through the live TV broadcast that is seen by nearly 2 million people.

Kreissig said the Chamber’s float is guaranteed a 15-second interview spot and 150 seconds of TV footage.

The Chamber hopes to further attract visitors to Steamboat with direct winter flights that operate between George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden.

“It seemed like a win-win for us,” Kreissig said.

By tracking Web traffic and bookings, the Chamber hopes to see if the $20,000 promotion results in a positive return on investment.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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