BRECKENRIDGE — At the Breckenridge town council work session on Tuesday, Dec. 10, assistant town manager Shannon Hayes reported to council the Breckenridge Events Committee’s proposal to downsize the 2021 International Snow Sculpture Championships due to closure of the South Gondola lot.
“The  International Snow Sculpture is proposed to consist of one sculpture, ‘World Peace’, to be created by a number of participants from previous winning teams. With the planned closure of the South Gondola lot and the subsequent loss of parking spaces the BTO (Breckenridge Tourism Office) and BEC (Breckenridge Events Committee) believe attempting to host a full Snow Sculpture event would create immense traffic and parking challenges,” Hayes said in her memo to council.
Hayes added that the traffic and parking issues would likely produce negative community sentiment and expected decreasing the scope of the event would help mitigate these issues. The South Gondola lot will be closed due to construction of the new parking garage from May 2020 to Nov. 2021, and the snow sculpture event typically takes place at the end of January.
Rob Neyland, event founder, said that the plan for the location of the piece will also aid in parking issues, as it is planned to be located on the north side of the Welcome Center of the Blue River Plaza, rather than in the Tiger Dredge parking lot.
“The snow sculpture historically takes up the entirety of the Riverwalk parking center. I think everyone kind of agreed that what we are going to be doing is not going dark with the event but stepping it down to a lower profile presence,” Neyland said.
Neyland added that the location will also keep the sculpture shaded, allowing it to remain on display for much longer. Neyland said the working term for the piece will be “World Piece,” as it will incorporate pieces from international sculpting teams.
“The notion of this ‘World Piece’ is we are going to do a collaborative sculpture. We’re going to hand pick the teams to come back to work on a collaborative sculpture,” Neyland said. “It would allow us to celebrate a different element of the world collaboration of the event that happens in Breckenridge. It allows us to keep ourselves alive and active in the snow sculpture world.”
The 2022 event is expected to return to the normal competition format, though Neyland said that the idea of a collaborative piece may become a regular tradition as part of the event in the future. He said there will also be other programming done to commemorate the event and continue the messaging of the piece.
Council agreed with the event committee’s proposal. Council member Dick Carleton commented that he thought the theme of “World Peace” was very fitting. Council members then discussed the larger issue of events that fall during the closure of the parking lot.
“In consideration of the parking structure being built…what’s the philosophy going forward?” council member Erin Gigliello said.
“I think we should follow what we’re doing with snow sculpture,” Mayor Eric Mamula said. “We’re going to need to have a very robust transportation plan for not only the winter but Oktoberfest…any big event.”
Mamula added that there would need to be clear signs directing people to available parking and that there would need to be a push for utilizing the bus system while the parking structure is being built.
The 2020 snow sculpture event will occur as planned with a competition between sculpture builders. The event will take place from Jan. 20 to 29. Now that town council has given the green light for paring down the event in 2021, more detailed planning will continue.
“The good news is that the town remains committed to continuing the town’s iconic event,” Neyland said.