The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs is a place where holiday tradition and history meet, year after year.
In late November, Caitlin and Megan from History Colorado Preservation Programs took part in a special holiday tradition—decorating the Hotel Colorado for the holiday season. This was Megan’s eighth year as a volunteer, and Caitlin’s first. They joined almost 40 other volunteers to help bring holiday cheer to the historic hotel. The annual decoration of the hotel is a 26-year tradition, and many volunteers have been a part of the effort for 10 years or more. Janet Koelling and Kerry Koepping of Creative Dimensions spearheaded and organized the event.
Mining engineer Walter Devereaux built Hotel Colorado in 1893, envisioning it as an upscale destination hotel and spa that would utilize the Yampah Hot Springs. The springs were locally known for their mystical healing properties. The hotel’s design is meant to be a replica of the Medici Palace in Florence, Italy. In 1977, the hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places, an honor that was a formal recognition of the hotel’s historic importance to Colorado and national history.
Throughout the years, famous figures have stayed (or allegedly stayed) at the hotel, including President Teddy Roosevelt (supposedly the “Teddy Bear” originated here), Molly Brown, and gangsters Al Capone and Diamond Jack Alterie.
Caitlin and Megan joined the other volunteers in contributing almost 500 hours’ worth of volunteer hours to set up the decorations. There were multiple themed displays to set up, including Gingerbread Alley, the North Pole, and Colorado Christmas. For the gingerbread house decorations, the in-house chef baked real gingerbread. The volunteers hung thousands of ornaments, many swags, wreaths, and garlands, and set up Christmas trees around the historic property. Over a million Christmas lights line the building’s exterior.
Each year, after all the decorations are up, several hundred people turn out for the lighting of the lights—a local tradition that people from the city and the surrounding communities look forward to, and one that marks the kickoff to the holiday season.
Caitlin and Megan were proud to pitch in to help decorate the historic Hotel Colorado—a building that is a living example of the importance of place to Colorado and the nation.