The Santa Ratings: The Hotel Colorado in Glenwood Springs

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The number-one rule when scouting a Santa for the Santa Ratings is that he has to be alive. I mean, there are probably like a million statues of Santa in this great square state, so those are generally disqualified in favor of a breathing (and preferably naturally bearded) Santa. However, after a recent whirlwind, off-peak-because-it-was-hella-cheap trip to Glenwood Springs, I had to break the rule. More important, I had to document not one, but two life-sized Santa statues, along with more dead wildlife. (This time around, the deceased and stuffed animals weren't posed in "natural" habitats; rather, they were mounted, donning red and white hats and felt reindeer antlers. So cute!) The 118-year-old Hotel Colorado's holiday decor was more legit than any mall Christmas tchotchkes I've encountered. There were the above-mentioned Santas, but also halls doused in fluffy poly-cotton snow being trampled by giant white Teddy bears, not-real carolers, and even a fireplace-perched Joseph and Mary, complete with Jesus accessory. Though the lens of my janky camera phone couldn't accurately capture the grand scale of these displays, it did hold true to some of the inherent creepiness. Or maybe it was because prior to leaving for this quick trip to take my East Coastie BFF lazy-girl sightseeing, our mutual friend mentioned that the hotel was haunted -- something about hearing a whimpering in the night that didn't come from any living human. Century-old hotels are creepy to begin with, but add a haunting and shit-tons of Christmas decor to the mix and this place might as well be the Stanley Hotel. Considering my freak-out-o-meter tops off at Michael Jackson's video for Thriller being too scary, the crying haunting story effectively kept me up throughout the night. (Not to mention the thought of a stuffed lynx wearing a reindeer antler headband possibly coming to life and eating my face off, a night terror that couldn't even be put to rest by two full listens of the Strokes' Is This It? on my iPod while I gripped the crunchy hotel sheets in piss-pants fear.) Somehow I eventually fell asleep and woke up the next day unharmed. And I will probably visit the Hotel Colorado again -- because, along with having zero tolerance for anything scary, creepy or freaky, I also have no long- or short-term memory whatsoever. Meaning, I probably won't remember the haunting, but I'll hopefully remember how awesome the Santa situation was.

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