From Mountain Babies to Beach Babies: Mrs. Sun and the Sun family are moving on...
The summer of 2012 was one of the most fun and fulfilling I’ve spent in Sun Valley during my nine years living in this great state of Idaho. And if you don’t believe me just look back over the 40 or so posts I wrote on this blog in the last three months! But sadly, it was to be my last Sun Valley summer. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Sun family are moving on. Family and careers are taking us to another great state, South Carolina, where we will be making our home in the equally historic city of Charleston.
While this is the end of the Sun Valley story for myself and my young family, I will continue to drop in on The Valley Sun blog from time to time, posting on my favorite topic: the history of Sun Valley Resort. (Do please let me know in the comments below if there’s any particular slice of Sun Valley history you’d like to know more about).
Meanwhile, I am putting the reins of The Valley Sun in the more-than-capable hands of Robin Sias. An excellent journalist and local freelance writer, Robin is a mother of three and a Sun Valley resident for close to three decades. I’m sure her family will enjoy showing you the ins and outs, ups and downs and general joys of being in Sun Valley as much as mine have done these past few months.
Many thanks for spending the summer with me and my family, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And personally, I’m excited to see what Robin and her brood get up to this winter, so be sure to stay tuned… .
A 20-draft-mule jerkline powers this Big Hitch, a collection of historic ore mining wagons. This unique sight is the traditional finale of the Wagon Days parade.
One of the common sayings around town is that you come to Sun Valley for the winters, but you stay for the summers. As Averell Harriman discovered after he opened the doors to his extravagant palace in the snow, the Wood River Valley is an ideal summer playground. Harriman quickly decided to keep those doors open and take advantage of the spectacular Sun Valley summers. Today, 76 years later, we are still enjoying the whirlwind two months between July 4th and Labor Day, when summer wraps its arms around the communities of the Wood River Valley. It may be brief, but it is a whole lot of fun; summer in Sun Valley is something not to be missed.
This year The Sun Family was offered the chance of riding in one of the antique wagons. Having been a spectator for seven of the last nine years, being able to participate in this historic parade was too good an opportunity to miss (even if 2 hours in a horse-drawn buggy had the potential to make Baby Sun a squirmy mess).
Fueling up with Mrs Fisher Cat at Papoose Club's annual Pancake breakfast
To get prepped for our Wagon Days opus, we chowed down with our parade companion, Mrs. Fisher Cat (in town visiting The Toy Store), at Papoose Club’s annual pancake breakfast (another wonderful tradition, read about it here.). Local historian Ivan Swaner was more than happy to keep Kitty company and fill her in on the story of Wagon Days.
Little Sun and Mrs Fisher Cat of the Calico Critter Family
Next we headed to the Sun Valley Horseman Center to meet our wagon and gaze in awe at the assembled parade entrants. From Ralphie the Camel to the beautiful Eh Capa bareback riders, there was a lot to take in. Little Sun and Baby Sun were thrilled to be able to get up close and personal with the wide-array of entrants, it was better than a trip to the zoo!
Little Sun and Baby Sun survey the Wagon Days Parade participants from inside a Black Surrey pulled by spotted draft horses
Next it was time to saddle up and hop on our ride for the afternoon, two beautiful spotted draft horses pulling a Black Surrey (with a fringe on top!). While there were a few white knuckle moments as horses crossed paths and wagons rolled, overall riding in the parade was one of the best experiences I’ve had during my time living in Idaho. Waving at the crowds and seeing the smiling, happy people waving back at us we felt – for a few brief moments – like Ketchum Royalty. Baby Sun was in her element (there is a stage somewhere in her future…), waving energetically the entire time (until she fell asleep mid-wave somewhere along Main Street).
The Sun family hitched a ride in Mrs. Fisher Cat's rig, proudly sponsored by Carol Knight of The Toy Store
We owe the wonderful Carol Knight a big dose of gratitude for letting us ride along with Mrs. Fisher Cat in The Toy Store sponsored Black Surrey. It was lovely to be associated with a fixture of the Ketchum shopping scene for over 30 years, all along the route pockets of Ketchum “old-timers” cheered with extra enthusiasm when they saw Carol’s distinctive logo on the side of the wagon.
The view from the Wagon: Sun Valley Road as seen from the Wagon Days Parade
Viewing Wagon Days from inside the parade gave me a lovely perspective on my hometown for close to a decade. It was especially poignant as next month The Sun Family is moving on. After a wonderful nine years living and working in the Wood River Valley we are heading East to join my family in Charleston, South Carolina. We will dearly miss this valley. It is where Brian and I began our lives together, where we welcomed our children, Owen and Rose, and where we have made many dear friends.
In particular I will miss Sun Valley Resort. It is all too easy for locals to take for granted the special place they have on their doorsteps. I for one, only really understood the value of what Averell Harriman brought to this remote corner of Idaho when I started digging into the history of the resort, which is a rich tapestry of fascinating stories and entertaining insights into how these towns became what they are today. I challenge all locals and visitors to take a few minutes of their time to walk through the grand doors of the Sun Valley Lodge into the lobby, pause for a moment and just look around. Eighty years ago, the spot where you are standing was just a barren field of sagebrush, surrounded by nothing but a struggling mining town and untamed mountains. Today a grand resort stands there, an integral part of the thriving, complicated and extraordinary community that surrounds it. Averell would be proud.
For me, riding in the Wagon Days parade was the perfect way to say goodbye to Ketchum.
Baby Sun with Grand Marshal Carol Knight in The Toy Store's 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade. Baby Sun loved the whole event, Little Sun (just behind her in the hat), not so much. "Mom, I'm not a girl." he complained to me.
This past Saturday in Sun Valley was the unofficial family day of the summer season. Over the past few years, two great family-friendly events have chosen to combine on this second Saturday of August, creating the perfect Saturday afternoon outing for myself and my two little ones. Thankfully, the dreadful smoke that had shrouded the valley the previous few days, caused by wildfires many miles away, was taking a much needed day off, providing the ideal afternoon for some fun in the sun.
Starting at 1:30 p.m. from outside the Sun Valley Inn, The Toy Store’s 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade saw a bevy of beautiful baby dolls all trussed up in their finest cowboy gear congregating for the traditional stroll down through the Sun Valley Village. The Sun family arrived a little late (as usual) and Baby Sun objected initially to being woken from her slumber. However, when she saw the cornucopia of dolls, dressed-up buggys and little girls, her delight was quite uncontrollable. When The Toy Store owner and parade Grand Marshal Carol Knight lent her her own baby doll, complete with fetching cowboy bandana, it was the icing on the proverbial cake and nothing could stop her now (not even a full orchestra and stone stairs… more on that later).
Ashley Brown of Ketchum pushes her gaily decorated buggy through the Sun Valley Mall. While the theme for this year's parade was Cowboy Bill, it was liberally interpreted. It's hard to separate a girl from her tutu!
The Doll Buggy Parade has been part of Wood River Valley life for more than three decades, moms strolling with their daughters today remembered when they were in the parade as children. Traditionally the trail of pushchairs, prams, strollers and anything with wheels that can carry a doll, winds its way from the Inn to the lawn outside the Sun Valley Pavilion, where it is greeted by the sounds of Sun Valley stalwart Tim Eriksen. Tim is a resort favorite, he has also been serenading guests, at The Roundhouse and Trail Creek Cabin, with his instrument of choice – the accordion, for many years. He told me that this gig is definitely one of his favorites. “I love playing for the children,” he said.
The much-loved accordion player Tim Eriksen delighted the parade participants with some cheerful tunes, warming them up for the fun to come...
Following the fun of the accordion, the gaggle of girls (and occasional boy) proceeded into the Sun Valley Pavilion, carefully parking their buggys alongside its outer walls, just in time for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s annual Family Concert. A lovely tradition, the family concert is designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of classical music, and each year this one concert is just for them. From an orchestra petting zoo to a far more relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect first experience for Little Sun (4 and a half). He was very excited to sit in his chair inside the pavilion, “read” his program and feel like a “grown-up boy.” Granted, the highlight of the event for him was the family behind us sharing their Goldfish crackers, but I’m sure some of the experience soaked in.
Little Sun, sitting in the Pavilion, was very proud of his "program" - an instruments of the orchestra guide and coloring book.
Baby Sun takes in the sounds and experiences of the Sun Valley Symphony. But not her seat.
For Baby Sun, hopped-up on dolls and balloons, sitting still was not an option, and while the family concert is a tolerant one, after 15 minutes of me chasing her up and down the exquisite stone stairways and walkways we bailed and headed for the freedom of the lawn. But not before she had delighted at clapping along with the crowds and stomping her feet in time with the original composition Board Games, a unique percussion piece performed with metal gloves and wooden board.
Once safely on the symphony lawn, we relaxed and enjoyed the performance of Cowboy Bill. An original piece receiving its world premiere at Sun Valley, Cowboy Bill is the brilliant result of the collaboration of Boston percussionist Alex Orfaly and Sun Valley’s favorite homegrown best-selling author Ridley Pearson, who performed his poem in person at the concert. As conductor Alasdair Neale explains in this video, “It’s Peter and the Wolf meets the Wild West… it serves as an introduction to the orchestra… it highlights individual instruments and sections to introduce young people to the wonderful world of the symphony orchestra.”
And it certainly did its job well, all the way home Little Sun was asking about Cowboy Bill and Bad Bob, the story had captured his imagination – and all without the aid of a television. Amazing! Catch some snippets of the music of Cowboy Billhere.
While a weary Sun family headed home, filled to the brim with music, dolls and ice-cream, we reflected on the extraordinary (and free!) afternoon we had had. Only in Sun Valley!
Baby Sun prowls the pavilion lawn for puppies to pet at opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony season this Monday.
Monday brought my favorite evening of a Sun Valley summer, the opening night of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony. The glamorous soprano Deborah Voigt lent her spectacular skills to an evening of Wagner, Wolf and Strauss.
Nestled snugly in a sliver of shade between the Pavilion lawn, where the serious symphony goers lounged, and the free-for-all behind us where children frolicked, the Sun family joined good friends for an evening of pizza, wine and sensational music.
Baby Sun is a year older, and a lot faster than she was at her first symphony visit, so my ability to completely enjoy the sounds wafting from the awesome orchestra were slightly hampered by her extreme excitement. What was capturing her attention, you ask? Dogs. Baby Sun’s first word was dog, and every time she spies a furry four-legged friend she squeals and rushes off to pet it. As any regular symphony attendee will know, dogs are almost a required accessory on the symphony pavilion lawn, and we were surrounded. There was a gorgeous golden retriever on one side, who patiently let Rose clamber all over her, and, yes, an actual puppy on the other side, whose owners seemingly brought him along to be “socialized.” As they were trailed by a band of children wherever they ventured, I think they succeeded.
Besides the secondary entertainment, Baby Sun did enter into the spirit of the evening, stopping mid-puppy-pat to clap whenever the crowd did, and even attempting to match Ms. Voigt’s thrilling arias with her own high-pitched squeals (I’m not seeing an operatic career in my daughter’s future). And therein lies one of the many things that makes the symphony so special, it caters to all. Nowhere else in the world can you enjoy world-class music for free, while relaxing on a lawn with a picnic and good friends, as your 4 year-old safely plays soccer a few feet away. It’s a unique Sun Valley experience.
For more from the first night of the season, the Symphony posted a slide-show on their Facebook page. And be sure to head there tonight at 6:30 p.m. for the second performance, featuring William VerMeulen on the horn. For a taste of the evening’s offerings, here are conductor Alasdair Neale’s video notes on the upcoming performance: