U.S. Water News Online
DENVER -- After 20 years of ski vacations in the Vail
Valley, all Cynthia Hunt had to show for it was a turtleneck from the
Beaver Creek resort.
That is until recently when the Chicago marketing executive
plunked down $65 for a 6-pound water valve cover just like the ones
embedded in Vail's streets. The cover is emblazoned with the Vail
logo, its 1962 founding date and the elevation in the ritzy resort
town, 8,150 feet.
Vail, home of the nation's largest ski resort, is also selling
52-pound manhole covers as it tries to raise extra cash to make up
for declining tax revenues.
Vail started using the custom cast-iron covers in its pedestrian
villages last year. It didn't take long before people looking for
authentic souvenirs began stealing them right out of the ground.
Workers were forced to glue the covers down but then Town Manager
Bob McLaurin came up with the idea to start selling the covers this
The venture proved so popular that the town posted the covers on
eBay for the holiday season, hoping interest in the town's 40th
anniversary would boost sales.
``We figured if someone could hawk a Polaroid photo of one of
Elvis Presley's last ski trips to Vail for $1,495, we should have an
online presence as well,'' McLaurin said.
Despite a hefty $295 price tag, the larger manhole version is the
most popular seller and is recommended for use as a garden
conversation piece or a patio inlay. The smaller one works well as a
trivet or paper weight and both are available in black and nickel
The town had sold just over $14,000 worth of covers recently,
depleting its entire inventory, town spokeswoman Suzanne Silverthorn
said. Another shipment was on its way from a foundry in Utah.
The money has come in handy since sales tax revenues were down
this year because of a drop in tourism.
Denver business owner Paul Kulas plans to get legs welded on his
two manhole covers so he can use them as end tables in the dream
house he's building outside Vail. He also bought a small one, which
he keeps on his desk.
``Having the manhole covers around will remind me to work hard and
make my mortgage payments,'' said Kulas, who dreamed of owning a
house in Vail while visiting with his father there in the 1960s.
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