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Lighted Man preps for 40th year in Steamboat

Winter Carnival tradition continues during Night Extravaganza at Howelsen Hill on Feb. 5

Brothers Kent Banks, left, and Jon Banks are key components to the Winter Carnival’s annual Night Extravaganza. Jon Banks is the Lighted Man, a tradition started by his father, Claudius, in 1936.
Tom Ross

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Check out a complete list of events for this year's Winter Carnival here.

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The Lighted Man will appear at the Winter Carnival opening ceremonies at 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 2 to allow people a close look at his gear. He then can be seen skiing down Howelsen Hill during the Night Extravaganza at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 5.





Brothers Kent Banks, left, and Jon Banks are key components to the Winter Carnival’s annual Night Extravaganza. Jon Banks is the Lighted Man, a tradition started by his father, Claudius, in 1936.
Tom Ross

— Christmas, taxes and Winter Carnival.

For the past 40 years, those were the things Jon Banks could consider constants in his life.

As the Lighted Man and son of Claudius Banks, who started the tradition in 1936, Jon Banks will make his 40th glowing descent down Howelsen Hill in the Winter Carnival’s most notable spectacle.



“It’s something that happens every year,” Banks said. “I can count on it. With all the things in life that are uncertain, this isn’t one of them.”

Last year, Banks added a high-tech LED lighting system to his rig that let him shine 256 colors from his ski poles, skis, suit and helmet.



Banks said he had used some colored bulbs in the past few years but only as accents to his traditional white lights. A microprocessor controls the lights as he skis down the hill through a programmed set.

He has added more than 100 lights to the suit to better illuminate him from the side this year.

The process to improve the suit — a combination of electronics, fireworks and fire-resistant material — is one that Banks ponders and researches all year leading up to the Winter Carnival, he said.

“I’m anticipating all fireworks and all the lights up and running,” he said.

Banks took his role in the tradition in 1971, skiing down Howelsen Hill with his father.

A short 40 years later, the spectacle has become one of the biggest hits of the carnival.

“It’s a very unusual attraction,” said Rick DeVos, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s executive director. “I think his dad must have been a really creative mind to come up with this. We’re excited for it to still be a part of the Saturday night show.”

So is Banks, who gets to carry on a family tradition while coming back to a place he loves.

“I think it’s a commitment. I think it’s a combination of things,” said Banks, who now lives in Washington. “Steamboat has been part of my home even though it’s a second home now. But I’ve spent more time in Steamboat than any other place in my life.”


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