Usually one of winter’s hot spots, Aspen was a virtual ghost town on New Year’s Eve after several bomb threats forced the police to evacuate the town. Not only were the parties canceled, but high-rolling tourists were forced to trade their plush rooms at the Hotel Jerome for cots in a conference room. It would seem to be the appropriate end to a relatively dismal year in money.
Aspen Times: It all started relatively quietly at Aspen’s banks, until just after 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Outside Wells Fargo bank, Community Safety Supervisor Gretchen Born cordoned off the intersection with yellow tape, and instructed pedestrians to stay on the opposite side of the street. Outside Vectra Bank, the same thing was happening.
As if the Aspen retail industry wasn’t already hurting enough, the evacuation forced stores to close early.
Soon, authorities brought in Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses to block access into the Aspen core, and used a reverse 911 call to evacuate businesses throughout town.
Storekeepers along Mill Street and Hyman Avenue said they had been doing a brisk business until they were told to close.
“I mean, it’s New Year’s Eve, everyone’s shopping,” said Tineyi Dube of Fendi, which had to turn shoppers away as staff were trying to exit the store.
Linda Guterman, at linen store Frette, concurred.
“We were thrilled,” she said of the afternoon’s business — until staff had to begin shooing customers out.
Since everything was forced to shut down, that included hair salons too.
Meanwhile, 21-year-old Katie Howlin was upset to learn that she wouldn’t be able to get to her hair and nails appointment at the Queen B salon with “Rita, who’s amazing.”
“I’ve been trying to get in with her and if I miss it, I’m going to be really upset,” she said, half-joking.
But if there weren’t any parties to go to, does she need to get her hair and nails done? The closures upset everyone, especially the out-of-towners, who thought they would be getting away from real world problems.
By 6:30 p.m., authorities began evacuating the entire 16-block radius. New Yorker Monica Martin, leaving Bad Billy’s restaurant and bar, was surprised by the turn of events.
“I live in New York, but this is Aspen. It’s not supposed to happen here,” she said.
Alternatives were restaurants outside of town, including the Hickory House rib joint, which reportedly had wait times of up to 90 minutes. However, the lucky few who lived on the outlying areas of the resort town were safe to party.
Denver Post: Meanwhile, Denver socialite Lucy Dikeou held her annual New Year’s Eve party at her Aspen home without a glitch. It sat outside the evacuation zone and was decorated with 10 giant snowmen.
Image from Aspen Times.
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