One year ago in 2014, a little unknown event called “Slide the City” started. I saw a picture of it posted on my friend’s Facebook wall. She had gone to the event in Slide’s hometown of Salt Lake City, it’s FIRST EVER event. For me, it was love at first sight.
But to understand why I fell in love with a slip’n’slide on steroids, you have to get to know me more.
See, I grew up a small-town farm girl just south of Fountain, Colorado. My parents purchased a farm when I was 6 and I lived most of my days outside, under the huge cottonwood trees that outlined our lush, grassy backyard. Summers were spent playing in the creek, climbing trees, helping hay the farm, and riding horses. Once my little sister was big enough, we bought our first slip’n’slide. Our backyard was pretty big, at that time, it was hard to tell where the hay field ended and our yard began. And so the legend of the longest slip’n’slide began. We weren’t satisfied with just the store-bought one so we added a few crucial pieces. #1, we needed a padded landing. Sure it’s fun to run and slide on flat ground, but it’s even MORE fun when you can run faster and land harder! We threw an air mattress on the ground and that was that. #2, we needed distance. My dad’s hay tarps came in handy for this. Laying 3, 10′ tarps side by side allowed for some more distance, (which of course we competed for the longest slide.) #3 we needed MORE water. The yard hose was a perfect candidate. It was placed above the air mattress, a perfect “rainbow” shaped spray at the top to create the perfect puddle at the start. As the water flowed down the air mattress and onto the tarps, my sis and I looked at each other and kind of gave the “what the hell are we thinking look”. And then…all FUN broke loose. We took turns sliding and marking each others distance, sometimes ending up in the grass. Our laughter and shouting made my parents, and grandmother, curious as to what could be so fun. Then…they participated…even Nana. This quickly became a summer ritual around the farm!
The Olin Slip’n’Slide circa 1999
Fast forward 15 years to a June night in 2014, I’m 32. Work (even though I love what I do) keeps me busy and sometimes, a little too stressed out. I can’t sleep again so I’m cruising Facebook posts around midnight, checking out all the things my friends are up to when I see it. “Slide the City”. A friend from Salt Lake City had posted the photo of the 1,000ft slip’n’slide and had said how fun it was. I immediately decided I wanted to try it and looked up their website to see where they would be taking this bad boy. No where. Well, ok, a few places but in late summer of 2014, they only had a handful of places listed and no where near Colorado Springs. So, I decided to try my luck to see if they would consider coming out here. I got in touch with their marketing manager Amy and sent her this:
A little bit more about myself:
I am a kid at heart! I taught elementary school PE for 8 years and then became the Community Outreach Coordinator for my husband’s non-profit UpaDowna in the fall of 2012. I also LOVE slip’n’slides! Every summer as a kid, we would set up a huge slip’n’slide in my back yard on our farm south of Colorado Springs. I have yet to introduce my son to one who is now 7 and I feel like I am doing him a disservice! I also think that not enough adults have fun now a days, are not in touch with their inner child nor do they laugh enough with their kids and families. “Slide the City” looks like a fun way to help some of those problems!! My interest in “Slide the City” regarding our non-profit UpaDowna is pure FUN! UpaDowna focuses on getting all ages and abilities out-of-doors and into nature. Most of the time, that means getting people out of their comfort zone to try something new. For many kids and adults, a city-long slip and slide is just that! We love to bring new and exciting events to our Colorado Springs community and look forward to a possible “Slide the City” event in the Springs!!
Amy quickly got me in touch with their event manager for our area, Brandon, and the talks became more and more serious. We worked with Downtown Partnership to first look at, well, the city…because that’s the name of the game! After Slide the City analyzed some of the slopes downtown, they came to a conclusion that none of the streets would work for the huge setup they bring and the slope they need. They also look for things like parks with shade for the participants and a picturesque location for great photos and videos. There were a few of those options, including Bear Creek Park on 21st st. It was decided that this would be the location. Since I had talked them into possibly coming to the Springs, Slide the City found it a natural fit to have our non-profit be the beneficiary of a portion of the proceeds. We helped to provide volunteers, and a little pre-event, on-location help when they couldn’t be here.
Being a first year event, there will be growing pains. As with any event! UpaDowna has been a part of many local fundraising events including the Waldo Waldo, ROAR in the City and Clips Beer & Film Tour. We have seen them grow from birth to the toddler stage. Sometimes, it’s tough the first few years! I think Slide the City is no different. Every event they have, they take notes on what worked or what didn’t. They ask for feedback from participants, cities and residents on how to make next year’s event even better. Slide the City also works with local entities to find out the best way to conserve the water.
One of Slide the City’s first prototypes being testing in June, 2014
The Slide came, and boy did it conquer. 4,500+ participants SOLD OUT the event! Being a national event with no local representation made it tough for day to day communications to take place but all parties involved (Slide, City of COS, City Clerk, Fire & Police, City of COS Parks & Rec, El Paso County Parks, Bear Creek Park Residents, UpaDowna and more) did the best they could with what they had. This was a new relationship for all of us and we were…pun intended…”testing the waters”.
Although a few major hurdles lay in the way such as the event shut down a major street for almost 24 hours, a dog park was closed and neighborhoods were affected by traffic, overall the event was a success for our community as a whole. #1, Slide the City does a great job bringing in people from all over the state to visit our city. Folks came to try it from Alamosa, Denver, Woodland Park, Falcon, Pueblo and more. #2, Slide the City reaches a wide demographic of participants, some of which might not have known about UpaDowna, Bear Creek Park and the beauty that area has to offer. #3, they supported local organizations and businesses by giving back a portion of the sales to UpaDowna, inviting Bristol Brewing to be the Beer Garden sponsor (with Bristol taking home the majority of the sales proceeds that day) and having a handful of other local groups and food trucks present. #4, it’s a very unique experience! They make you feel like a kid again and they help bring friends and family together for a day of fun they’ll never forget! Just ask my mom…we had a blast as we screamed and laughed the whole way down the slide.
That’s me screaming, and my mom that I run into! Ha!
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We talked many hesitant friends and volunteers into trying it, and I’m pretty sure they are glad they did it! Don’t take MY word for it, just watch some of the videos and check out the photos, read the articles, or check out these photos too! If you are thinking of going, DO IT! They are coming back Sat. Aug. 29th to Castle Rock, CO. The beneficiary is the Downtown Merchants Association of Castle Rock. Here is more info about the event.
Are they a national event? Yes. But so are the color runs and mud runs that come into town. Can there be a balance between supporting local and supporting national? Yes. Who else do you know that can shut down a city street to slap a 1,000′ long slip’n’slide down it? Not me and our 30′ long hay tarps, that’s for sure!