Couple hopes to bring Steamboat dragon back to Steamboat Springs this summer
Steamboat Springs — Charlie Holthausen doesn’t consider himself an artist, but the thousands of people in Steamboat Springs that have seen his work might disagree.
For years, Charlie’s greatest creation — a bright red dragon with the heart of a Nissan 4WD pickup — was a highlight of the Steamboat’s Fourth of July Parade, Halloween Stroll and Merry Mainstreet celebrations. But last year, the Holthausens’ dragon was noticeably absent after the Charlie and his wife, Gail, sold the mutant car to an owner in Los Angeles — a place where the weather would be kinder to the gentle giant.
But while the roar moved to California, the dragon’s memory continued to fuel Charlie’s desire to build another fire-breathing dragon. This time, he hopes to make it bigger and a bit more durable that it’s predecessor.
“The hardest part is getting started. You can plan and plan and plan, but one day you have to walk out with a wrench and start doing something. … But once you get started and then things start to fall into place and work out,” Charlie said. “The first thing is the concept and the drawings. When we had the iguana, we loved the spikes down the back, and when it came time for another project, I loved the spikes. So we wanted something with spikes, and because of Burning Man we wanted something with fire. So spikes and fire spells dragon.”
The dragon also will have a collapsible neck and removable tail that will allow it to be covered for the winter. That was something the first dragon did not have, and Charlie admits that the weather took its toll.
So last winter, Charlie and Gail started talking about what he should build — thankfully Charlie had never stopped looking for and collecting parts for a new car. Gail was hoping for a Phoenix rising from the ashes, but Charlie’s love of spikes won her over and the couple decided to begin work on Phoenix, the fire-breathing dragon. The dragon will be red, of course, and have plenty of spikes.
But this dragon also will have a neck and head that will tuck in for travel, a removable tail and more durable wings. And it also will have a fiery belch to entertain the crowds.
While the couple has been planning the project for several months, Charlie just started turning a 1997 GMC Safari with 205,000 miles into his latest work of “art” last week. Charlie said he does not consider himself an artist and points out that an “art” car is different than a “mutant” car. He explained that art car typically is decorated, while a mutant car is transformed into something else or the car can’t be seen at all.
The Holthausens already have invested $3,000 into the car and are more than halfway into the project.
But they are looking for some help and have turned to http://www.kickstarter.com to get it. The site helps projects like the dragon find funding from those who want to help. People can donate any amount from $1 to $500 and will be listed as supporters on the Kickstarter website. Those who donate more than $25 also will get a reward from the Holthausens ranging from T-shirts to jewelry pendants.
The Holthausens encourage any one who wants to help to visit the Kickstarter website and search for Steamboat Dragon. There they will find a place they can donate to help bring the dragon back to Steamboat.
Charlie is hoping to have his newest creation up and rolling in the next month and is planning to take it to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
He also is eager to get it back to several Steamboat Springs events this year to share his creation with local fans.
Gail compares the dragon to having a child and said it’s like part of the family. For Charlie, the joy comes from sharing the car with others.
“When you are done, the gratification is great. To drive it even in downtown Steamboat,” Charlie said. “We give kids rides and kids get to push the button that blow the flames. Just the look on their face is the reward.”
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Explore a mix of in-person and virtual events happening this weekend in Routt County.