Thursday, January 1, 2009

Survived: Aspen New Year's Eve Bomb Threat

What a weird way to ring in the New Year. 16 blocks of downtown Aspen closed after James Blanning dragged a few Christmas-present-wrapped bombs into the Wells Fargo and Vectra banks downtown. So we tabled our plans for a night on the town and took some lobsters to-go from Butch's back up to Snowmass and had a night-in.

Meanwhile in Aspen, dozens of bars, restaurants and hotels geared up for their biggest night of the year were forced to close and residents and visitors to Aspen were evacuated while the bomb squad from Grand Junction disarmed the devices. Much of the planned celebration was canceled and though I've yet to see an official toll, you've got to think the economic impact of this was in the millions of dollars. New Year's Eve is a crucial night for hospitality businesses and particularly so in seasonal resort towns like Aspen. One restaurateur estimates that New Year's Eve is his biggest night by 3x and represents 15% of his total December sales.

This morning Blanning was found dead near Independence Pass after shooting himself in the head. His bombs in Aspen his final parting gift to the world.

It turns out the fireworks are back on tonight, a delayed celebration but perhaps one more poignant in the wake of a near miss and with the extra thanks that no one was hurt.

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