Meet Mitch Harr, an Aurora firefighter who's one of the upcoming calendar boys in next year's 2011 Colorado Firefighters calendar. Tonight, there will be a2011 Colorado Firefighters Calendar Debut Party
at City Hall Events Center, 1144 Broadway. Both the party and the calendar are projects of Fired Up for Kids, a program that raises funds for the burn unit at Children's Hospital, so the money all goes to a fantastic cause.
Also, there will be lots of men with rippling pecs and washboard abs (and a few fit and very hot women, too) getting oiled up, strutting the catwalk and flexing their very impressive muscles for your benefit. And our friend Mr. Harr is one of them. We asked him about how he decided to enter the calendar, what the judging process was like and what's scarier: running into a burning building or walking onto a stage in front of hundreds of hot-and-bothered screaming women.
Westword: Which month on the calendar did you land?
Harr: They keep it very secretive, so we don't find out what month we are until the debut. As much as we'd like to know, they've done a good job this year of keeping it secret.
WW: Which month would you most like to be?
Harr: With this year being the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, September's going to be, I would think, a sought-after month, but who's to say? A lot of people want the cover; that would be an honor of course, but September would be special.
WW: How did you decide to try out for next year's calendar?
Harr: My wife actually is the one that asked me to do it. She's in the medical field as well, and she thought it'd be a really neat. I'm turning 40 this year, so it's kind of a benchmark, and what a better way to celebrate my 40th birthday than to try out for the calendar?
WW: What was the judging process like?
Harr: I was fortunate enough to have somebody in my crew who was in last year's calendar. So it was nice to be able to talk to him and have some feedback on a little bit of the interview process. You still don't know exactly what they're going to ask, but it was nice to have somebody who had gone through the process who you could chat with. But it was very nerve-wracking. The judging event was exhilarating and terrifying, but when you're done, it's quite an achievement. Just getting up in front of thousands of people you don't know and answering three questions -- you have no idea what they're going to ask -- being able to answer those questions and then come out with your shirt off.
WW: Which is more nerve-wracking for you: Running into a burning building or going through the judging process?
Harr: I would much rather go to a burning house any day than go out on a stage without my shirt on and dance, because I am not a good dancer. It was unbelievable. But I must have done something right.
WW: What questions did they ask you?
Harr: The first question was, how do I keep it spicy at home? Because on my initial interview with Angela [Kmezich] and Kirsten [Hamling], they asked me what is my favorite food or condiment, and I said, "Things that are spicy." So the panel of judges came up with their own questions. So they ran with that and asked me that question, how I keep it spicy at home. And I answered by directing it to my wife, who was in the audience, and I said, "I could answer that question descriptively but with my wife being right here, she probably wouldn't appreciate that." When they asked me that question, I didn't have an answer for it, so I was trying to buy some time up there. And then the people started screaming, which bought me a couple of seconds to then say I don't think she'd appreciate it, because when they asked that question, I was terrified. And the second question was about a practical joke that we play in the firehouse.
I got off pretty easy, to be honest with you. The first guy who went through the first question was asked, "Give us five reasons why you should be in next year's calendar." You should have seen everybody's faces. You could see, they were counting on their fingers, and once you get to the third response, you couldn't come up with any more. But he did really well, and he is in this year's calendar.
WW: Are you prepared for the debut party? What did your friend in last year's calendar tell you about it?
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Harr: He said it is the judging event times three. It's a lot more physical as far as the stage we're going to be on. The stage for the judging event was pretty wide, so the people bordering the catwalk, they can't really touch you, per se. The catwalk at the debut is pretty narrow, and there are hands all over you. I'm pretty shy by nature. I'm just going to take it all in because it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. I'm just really going to enjoy it; I've worked hard to get to this point.
WW: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Harr: Yes, for the cause. We do this for the children and the cause. I can't emphasize enough, especially when you go up to the hospital and you see their faces, and for me, being able to make a child laugh or even smile just because of the uniform that I'm wearing, how many people have that opportunity? And for me to be in a calendar to raise money for these kids goes above and beyond that, and I wish more people could experience that. Just me walking in and being a firefighter makes this kid's day, and there's nothing else like that. And the whole calendar thing -- sometimes people lose sight of that, and for me, I won't.
Want to see a lot more of Harr? Tickets to tonight's event are $35 for general admission and $75 for VIP; visit www.firedupforkids.org.