When Dillon police officer Bryan Wagner arrived at work Friday morning, Dec. 6, he got an unusual request from his chief — find a missing reindeer and bring it back safely.
“I came up here from Florida,” Wagner said. “We used to wrestle with alligators all the time. But reindeer is new.”
The story of the missing reindeer started the previous evening at the Lighting of Dillon ceremony. Every winter, the town of Dillon puts on an evening of festivities, which include crafts, holiday music and an appearance by Santa and one of his reindeer.
In this case, Santa is Bill Lee, owner of the Laughing Valley Ranch in Idaho Springs. Lee is a local character actor who plays the role of Santa Claus and historical mountain man figures at various events. Among Lee’s ranch animals are domesticated reindeer, which he often brings along with him for kids to pet.
On Thursday night, Dec. 5, Lee was at La Riva Mall in downtown Dillon as Santa Claus, listening to children’s Christmas wish lists. His reindeer, which he has brought to numerous previous occasions, was outside for pictures and petting when it was suddenly spooked. The animal jerked its lead rope away from its handler (reindeer can weigh up to 200 pounds) and bolted out of the enclosure.
Lee, the handler and several others pursued the animal to the area near the Dillon Marina. Efforts to corral the reindeer, with the assistance of Dillon police officer James Connelley and Summit County animal control officer J.J. Swirka, were unsuccessful. Tracks were found along the shoreline, but the animal had disappeared, and its pursuers determined it had left land and swum into the lake.
Eventually, the searchers had to give up, with no sign of the reindeer either on land or in the water.
However, around 8 a.m. on Friday morning, the Dillon police office received a phone call from a Summit County local who was walking his dogs along the shoreline near the Robert’s Tunnel building. He said he had seen a reindeer with a halter and lead rope walking around the nearby trail.
That’s when Wagner started the search, joining Lee and several other volunteers, including Copper Mountain Resort ski patroller Joe Fassel. Fassel has known Lee for years, and arranges for him to attend the Copper Mountain Resort employee Christmas party as Santa, and he always brings a reindeer.
“(Lee) brings the reindeer to my kids’ Christmas party at Copper here, and he brings it inside the building. He lets the kids pet it, and the adults have to pet it also, and it’s that reindeer that he brings,” Fassel said. “It is a tame reindeer. It just got scared and it didn’t know what else to do.”
For the next several hours, the group tracked the reindeer. They managed to get it cornered once, but it slipped away. About four more hours passed before they managed to pinpoint its location again.
By that time, Lee had arrived with another reindeer, hoping that a familiar creature would help lure the frightened animal back to the trailer.
The trick worked. As the runaway reindeer began to follow its fellow down the road, the searchers were able to take hold of its lead rope and secure it.
Despite the initial alarm among some of the searchers, the reindeer’s jump into the lake most likely wasn’t all that dangerous.
“Some animals are comfortable in the water; moose and caribou will often swim across rivers, and in southeast Alaska even across (the) ocean to other islands,” said Meg Leroux, operations manager for the Summit County animal control and shelter.
Nevertheless, recovering the animal as soon as possible was a priority.
“It is a domesticated animal, so it wouldn’t have held up too long if a bunch of coyotes would’ve surrounded it,” Fassel said. “It would’ve held its own, but I think after a while, in the wild, I don’t think it would have lasted very long.”
All participants were relieved to finally get the reindeer back in the trailer and on its way home again.
“As long as he is safe and sound, that’s all that matters,” said Wagner.
And now, the participants all have another interesting story to tell.
“I couldn’t have written a story better,” Fassel said with a laugh. “What else could you ask for? But that’s the way it was.”
A self-adjusting headlamp, heated gloves, and an “action camera” that records video and tracks via GPS — these are among the trending gadgets to put on your holiday list this year.
A sensor built on the face of the Petzl TIKKA R+ headlamp measures ambient light in a scene and auto-adjusts its beam. Look down a pitch-black trail and the LED light pumps its max brightness. Now, glance at a close-up object and the lamp dims in an instant, saving battery power and offering the optimal light for the situation. $74.95, www.petzl.com
Heated Leather Gloves
They don’t come cheap. But if your special someone wants hot hands no matter the temp this winter look to Chaval and its primo leather gloves. The company uses a paper-thin “nanotech polymer” film to sense skin temperature and regulate heat output from the embedded battery pack. $389.97, www.chavalusa.com
Mount the yellow ICEdot Crash Sensor on any helmet and it serves as a safety beacon if you get in a crash. Accelerometers in the unit measure and assess impact and velocity. Low-energy Bluetooth syncs a smartphone app with the sensor, and if an impact occurs it sends a signal to the phone. From there, a countdown screen appears on the phone, allowing you to manually disable the app. If not disabled, the phone will alert your family or up to 10 emergency contacts with your GPS location via SMS. $149, www.icedot.org
Affordable Satellite Phone
For the same price as an iPhone you can now buy a satellite phone and call home from almost anywhere in the world. The Global Phone from Spot LLC retails at $499, similar to an iPhone or other high-end smartphone. Calling plans start at 25 cents a minute, making remote satellite-reliant communication more affordable than ever. www.findmespot.com
Full-Feature Action Camera
HD video recording, GPS, an accelerometer, altimeter and even heart-rate functions are built into the VIRB Elite camera from Garmin. The result is 1080p “point-of-view” video along with location and physical stats recorded for a synthesized data dump of an experience that you can later view on a screen. $399.99, www.garmin.com
Stephen Regenold is the founder of GearJunkie.com.
The Summit Choral Society and the Summit Concert Band will be combining their musical abilities this holiday season to put on a free Christmas concert on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Silverthorne Pavilion.
One portion of the concert will be dedicated to the choral society, another to the band, and the majority of the performance will feature choir and band together.
“We have a lot of traditional Christmas music, Christmas carols, songs that people know, combined with a few other pieces that will be new, and a sing-along at the end,” said Jill Schroeder-Dorn, director of the Summit Choral Society.
The concert will feature a range of music and styles, from the traditional Christmas classics, such as the Hallelujah chorus from “The Messiah,” to a “Christmas on Broadway” medley. The band will also perform while a member of the choir narrates the beloved holiday poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”
Though her favorite piece changes every year, Schroeder-Dorn said her current pick on the program is “Christmas Day,” composed by Gustav Holst, who also composed the orchestral suite “The Planets.”
“There will be some fun music; there will be some serious music,” said Beth Steele, Summit Concert Band director. “There should be something for everyone.”
This will be the first Christmas concert for Steele, who recently took the reins. Steele comes from a military background. Recently retired from the U.S. Army, she served as a conductor for various Army bands in the U.S. and Europe.
Schroeder-Dorn has been with the choral society for three years. She graduated with a doctorate in choral conducting from the University of Northern Colorado. In May, she and the choral society traveled to New York City and sang at Carnegie Hall.
“I think it should really be a terrific concert,” said Joni Thieme-Weinberg, board member and publicity chairman for the Summit Choral Society. “Both Jill and Beth are extremely talented.”
Both Schroeder-Dorn and Steele said they are looking forward to performing together. The band and the choral society perform throughout the year, with the Christmas concert traditionally being one in which they team up either with each other or other groups.
Audiences can expect Christmas music of all styles, a sing-along and refreshments, all for free.
“If they’re not in the mood for the holidays yet,” Steele said, “that will absolutely put them in the mood for the holidays.”
With her eyes wide and a big smile, Lindsey Vonn declared herself ready to race for the first time in 10 months.
In an interview with The Associated Press and USA Today Sports, Vonn said she will return to competition in a World Cup downhill Friday, the latest major step in her push to get ready for the Sochi Olympics.
She has not raced since a high-speed crash at the world championships in February, when she tore two ligaments in her right knee and broke a bone in her lower leg. About 2½ weeks ago, Vonn partially re-tore one of those reconstructed ligaments in a crash while training in Colorado.
“You kind of know if your body is ready or not, and I feel like mine’s ready,” Vonn said Thursday.
“I’m really excited. It’s been a long time coming. But ... it doesn’t feel like I’ve been gone that long. It just feels like the start of a new season,” the 29-year-old American said. “To me, this feels pretty awesome.”
The 2010 Olympic downhill gold medalist and four-time overall World Cup champion said her right knee felt fine and did not swell up after Wednesday’s training run at Lake Louise, where she has a seven-race winning streak. She waited until the evening to see how the knee would hold up before deciding she would get in the starting gate Friday.
“It usually swells pretty soon after if there’s trauma. It definitely doesn’t take very long to tell, to see if it’s going to get swollen or not, but I just gave it the whole day and nothing happened, thankfully,” Vonn said. “So all positive signs.”
Vonn plans to enter all three races this weekend. There is another downhill Saturday and a super-G on Sunday. She considered taking part in Thursday’s second downhill training run before opting to skip it, in large part because she knows the hill so well.
“It was just a matter of: Did I nail the line? That was the goal yesterday — to ski solid, but ski the line, ski my race line. And I did that,” Vonn said. “So I knew that if I could accomplish all those things in one run, I don’t need a second run.”
After turning in the fastest time in the second training run, 2011 overall World Cup champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany was asked about Vonn’s decision to skip Thursday and race Friday.
“She’s saving some energy and maybe protecting her knee a little bit. But I think she got a good feeling yesterday already and she’s ready for tomorrow — to attack it,” Hoefl-Riesch said. “It’s a long time ago that she was racing and everyone is excited for her because she is the big star of (recent) years and everyone is happy to see her back on the slope.”
Some have taken to referring to this spot as “Lake Lindsey” in recognition of her dominance: 14 of her 59 World Cup race wins came at this picturesque resort in the Canadian Rockies, including three-victory sweeps in 2011 and 2012.
“She’s tough. Am I surprised that she’s back out here? No. And do I want her back here? Yeah,” said U.S. teammate Leanne Smith, who was 20th Thursday.
“Anything’s realistic for her, clearly,” Smith added. “I think she’s been so talented on this hill for years and years and she knows what to do to win.”
That’s part of why Vonn figures it’s “a perfect place” to return to action.
“It’s a place I’ve felt comfortable on and I’m confident here,” she said.
Vonn had hoped to race last week at Beaver Creek, Colo., not far from her home in Vail, but her setback from a crash on Nov. 19 scrapped those plans.
She told the AP last weekend that she needs another operation on her right knee but is trying to put it off as long as possible to ski at the Winter Games, which begin in about two months.
“I was definitely nervous in the starting gate yesterday,” Vonn said Thursday, referring to her training run. “It’s so familiar, yet foreign, because I just haven’t been racing, and I don’t have that adrenaline. And so that feeling was different. But now that I got that first run done with, I feel much better.”
Timesharing is said to have originated in the French Alps in the 1960s based on the need of consumers for assured accommodations in a prime tourist location. As such, it was logical the concept would find its way to Colorado. Unfortunately, despite increased regulation of the timeshare industry, many timeshare buyers succumb to high-pressure sales tactics and wind up dissatisfied with their timeshare purchases. When that happens, what legal remedies are available?
Right to Rescind: Colorado law provides a limited “cooling off” period during which a timeshare buyer may rescind (cancel) the sale. The rescission must be exercised within five calendar days after the sale and applies to any sale of a timeshare regardless of whether the seller is the timeshare developer itself or a private owner. The rescission must be exercised in writing by electronic means, mail or hand delivery and is effective when given by the buyer (not when received by the seller). Once the right to rescind is exercised, the timeshare seller must refund any down payment or deposit made under the timeshare contract within seven calendar days (or, if the check has not cleared, within seven calendar days after it clears).
Timeshare sellers must give “conspicuous notice” of the right to rescind in the sales contract. While the statute itself does not indicate what constitutes conspicuous notice, a separate regulation requires “a statement in bold print immediately prior to the purchaser’s signature line on the sales contract disclosing the rescission right available to purchasers and that the rescission right cannot be waived.”
Remedy for Misrepresentation: Colorado law specifically protects timeshare buyers when the seller misrepresents:
• The investment, resale or rental value of any timeshare;
• The conditions under which the purchaser may exchange the right to use accommodations or facilities in one location for the right to use accommodations or facilities in another location; or
• The period of time during which the accommodations or facilities contracted for will be available to the purchaser.
While the law applies to any representation, including those made orally, it would be easiest to prove a case where the seller’s misrepresentations appear in writing, such as in advertising materials. It would be difficult, though apparently not impossible, for a buyer to prove oral misrepresentation in the face of correct representations in the contract itself.
Regulation: Some Colorado towns and counties have adopted comprehensive timeshare regulations, which timeshare buyers should consult to determine if they will help. In addition, timeshare companies are generally regulated by the Colorado Real Estate Commission (CREC). The CREC requires timeshare companies to disclose detailed information about themselves and their projects. A timeshare buyer should consider obtaining a copy of applicable disclosures from the CREC to determine if they are accurate and being followed.
Enforcement Options: The CREC has the ability to investigate and punish timeshare companies for many timeshare law violations. Thus, where a timeshare buyer believes a law has been violated, the buyer should consider filing a complaint with the CREC. In addition, violations of consumer protection laws, including those related to the right to rescind and seller misrepresentations as discussed above, may be criminal and could be reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities. Finally, a timeshare buyer may bring a civil enforcement action against a timeshare seller for any violation of Colorado law and potentially recover significant penalties and attorney fees.
This article does not discuss every law applying to timeshares, including significant laws applying to timeshare resales. Timeshare buyers should consult an attorney about their specific situations.
Many timeshare sales are legitimate transactions leaving aggrieved buyers with few remedies against the timeshare seller, but, under the right circumstances, legal relief may be available.
Noah Klug is the owner of The Klug Law Firm, LLC, in Summit County, Colorado. His practice focuses on business, real estate, and litigation. He may be reached at Noah@TheKlugLawFirm.com or 970-468-4953.
The town of Frisco will host its annual Wassail Days beginning Saturday, Dec. 7, and running through Sunday, Dec. 15. Frisco will spread the holiday cheer all week long with daily events on Main Street and at the Frisco Adventure Park.
Frisco will kick off the event on Saturday, Dec. 7, with the annual tree lighting and visit from Santa. After, head over to the Frisco Adventure Park to slide down the tubing hill and warm up with some homemade soup during the inaugural Soup Cup Classic.
On Saturday, Dec. 14, head to the Backcountry Brewery for Breakfast with Santa, where families can take photos with Santa and enjoy a pancake breakfast. Later in the afternoon, join in the annual Santa Dash. Runners dress up like Santa, and everyone who crosses the finish line receives a stocking full of goodies, including cash. Registered participants also receive a Frisco Santa shirt, Santa hat and one free hour of tubing at the Frisco Adventure Park tubing hill through Friday, Dec. 20.
Those looking for fun on a budget can venture to Frisco for the free day in Frisco on Thursday, Dec. 12. The Frisco Adventure Park will host a day of free tubing, free sleigh rides and free Nordic skiing. And Wassail Days wouldn’t be complete without the annual wassail competition. Participating retailers along Main Street will offer homemade wassail, a delicious mixture of cider and spices. Shoppers can vote for their favorite wassail recipe through the close of voting Sunday, Dec. 15.
Visit www.wassaildays.com for more information or to register for the Soup Cup Classic or Santa Dash for Cash.
For more information about the town of Frisco, visit www.townoffrisco.com or contact the Frisco Information Center at (800) 424-1554.