By Rich Mohr
Few events are more anticipated than the annual celebration of closing out one year while ringing in a new one. And in Colorado, we ring in the New Year with a unique style. One such event and a Colorado tradition for 20 Years, is Skate the Lake, which takes place each New Year’s Eve on Evergreen Lake. Evergreen Lake was recognized by CNN as one of the world’s 10 most beautiful ice-skating rinks. Sunset Magazine also calls Evergreen Lake a Top 10 skating rink in the US.
Skate the Lake is a safe, family-friendly and alcohol free way to celebrate the New Year. The event, which begins at 6 p.m. and ends at midnight, features 15 skating rinks for ice skating, hockey, sleigh rides and even mini ice-golf. If you don’t skate or just need a break, you can gather round one of the many fire barrels to roast marshmallows or just warm up. There’s even a place for kids and adults alike to warm their toes in the original warming house that will also feature the movie “Cars” on a continuous loop.
The highlight each year is a fantastic fireworks display that takes place in the middle of the lake. To uphold the family-friendly aspect of the event, there are two displays. The first is at 8pm. The final display at midnight is not to be missed, and the excitement culminates with an ice “ball drop” to commemorate the occasion.
Skate the Lake is one of three festive events (known to locals as IceFest) taking place at Evergreen Lake this year. The celebrations start early with a youth pond hockey tournament. Beginning at 8 a.m., teams of four to eight players take the ice and compete for the honor of being the best.
The final event and perhaps the most chilling, is the annual Evergreen Lake Plunge. Thrill seekers flock to Evergreen Lake for a chilly dip in the freezing waters and spectators stop by to watch those who dare take the icy plunge. Plungers are rewarded with a toasty warming house, free hot chocolate and hot tubs to take away the chill.
Perhaps your designated driver can stop by one of the many brewpubs and breweries in Evergreen to let imbibers warm up. The Lariat Lodge Brewery, El Rancho Brewery, Evergreen Tap House or Revival Brews will be happily serving up some of Colorado’s finest brews and cocktails as well as tremendous food.
This is the 20th Anniversary of Skate the Lake, an event that was created by another Evergreen tradition, Drive Smart. Drive Smart started this event as a New Years alternative to driving down to Denver on roads frequented by drivers who’ve had a few drinks. Drive Smart does more than just host IceFest each year. The mission of this charitable organization is to prevent traffic-related fatalities and injuries. They work in partnership with schools, businesses, civic and community organizations to educate, create awareness and improve attitudes concerning safe and courteous driving in the mountain communities. In fact, Drive Smart is being honored by the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) during this year’s event. CSP is recognizing 20 years with no driving fatalities on New Year’s Eve in Evergreen.
For more information or to find out how to purchase tickets for any IceFest event, visit www.drive-smart.org.
Thirst Colorado does not endorse operating a motorized vehicle after having a few beers. So we encourage your designated driver to take you to the local breweries should you choose to check them out. Remember to do your part and Drive Smart!