Winter Carnival: Carnival traditions steeped in Steamboat Springs history |

Winter Carnival: Carnival traditions steeped in Steamboat Springs history

Michael Schrantz

— A lot of Steamboat Springs history is wrapped up in the traditions of the Winter Carnival.

The Diamond Hitch Parade showcases the Yampa Valley's ranching roots. The Steamboat Springs High School Ski Band helped put Ski Town USA on the map and give it its name.

And the Lighted Man, snow sculptures and other events throughout the weekend all add to the charm of the Winter Carnival and Steamboat Springs.

The Steamboat Springs High School marching band performs during the 2012 Winter Carnival's Diamond Hitch Parade.Scott Franz

The parade will begin at about 11:30 a.m. after the street events Sunday, Feb. 9.

Participants in the Diamond Hitch Parade are encouraged to have at least one diamond hitch, which is a rope formation consisting of four skiers in a diamond being towed by horse or, in the case of some parade entrants, a snow cat.

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The Ladies Recreation Club, started in 1924, was one of the pioneers of the diamond hitch and has been participating in the parade for many of the past 100 years of events.

"Although the ladies had participated in carnival skijoring races since 1924, the requirement that costumed skiers hold the tow rope at the four points of a diamond added a new dimension," Sureva Towler wrote in "The History of Skiing at Steamboat Springs."

The first diamond hitch competition in 1927 — with two teams and prizes of candy — eventually became an exhibition and participation was opened to the community, Towler wrote.

The Ski Band is another integral part of the parade.

Since 1935, members of the high school's band have been donning cross-country ski gear and scooting down the snow-covered street.

Steamboat Springs High School students also will be participating during the carnival by carving snow sculptures along Lincoln Avenue.

Students present their sculpture ideas for the chance to be chosen to mold the giant snow blocks into fleeting, shifting artwork.

The Lighted Man will make his traditional runs down the face of Howelsen Hill during the Night Extravaganza, which starts at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8.

Claudius Banks started the Lighted Man tradition in 1936, and his son, Jon Banks, has been wearing the suit and pack full of fireworks since 1971.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz