Saturday in the Park |

Saturday in the Park

Teri Orr For a couple of years running, in the mid-nineties, I had worked out a just-right-for-me New Year’s ritual. It involved a special meal — like imported salami, excellent cheese and grown-up crackers, nice bubbly and a brand new, hardback book. I would turn down invitations to loud gatherings from people I had already spent numerous evenings with during the holidays and I would shut down for just one night. I did this by telling say, the Greens, I was going to the Browns, and the Smiths that I was going to the Joneses. People felt a single woman would feel lonely if not at a party on New Year’s Eve. The truth is, if you are not currently in a relationship, there is often no place lonelier than a party full of couples on New Year’s Eve. Then I would wake up the next morning, well rested, with much of a new novel in my head, and grab the camera and a journal and head up to Huntsville, a few miles outside of Ogden, and wind my way to the monastery there. Built in the late ’40s with Quonset huts left over from the war, the quiet farm and church grounds are enormously peaceful. And the wildlife plentiful — elk and moose and eagles and critters galore. I would park and walk the tree-covered lane and then head into the church and listen to the Trappist Monks chant sacred words. Then I would head over to the Shooting Star Saloon, the oldest ongoing saloon in Utah and grab a Shooting Star burger, basically a double cheeseburger with a grilled bratwurst on top and a cold beer. I would never finish the burger but I made a fine mess trying. I’d grab some quarters, throw them in the jukebox and let the likes of Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash wash over me. Then I’d be ready to write. Those clean, blank pages would invite me to tell stories of my past year and reveal dreams for the year to come. I’d leave and then stop and shoot photos all over the peaceful valley until I journeyed home. It always felt so good to soak up that quiet. About nine years ago all that changed. My New Year’s became part of my job. I spend them with a few of the very same people each year and now always, dozens of new folks as well. It is a loud, colorful, wildly entertaining celebration, even if that only means the audience members have become more entertaining than the performers. We always have guests who are visiting from out of town, some who have made our event, their event, for years now. The staff and their families are used to the work night being a holiday and make their personal plans with work in the middle. Ditto the many technical people who run our sound and lights. Some — most actually — are away from their loved ones at the stroke of midnight. We are in the business of entertaining others. And at this time of year, so is most of the town. There are bartenders and taxi drivers and waiters and snowplow drivers and cops on the beat all hard at work. The fire and ambulance folks don’t have the night off, thank God. And the gas stations stay open. In a resort community, there is a community of worker bees who provide the services for guests to come and recreate, and in the case of New Year’s Eve — and Day — celebrate. We understand each other, that group of folks who nod at 2 a.m. at the 7-Eleven, that oh, thank heaven, stays open all night. The taxi driver grabbing a coffee between shifts, ditto the cop and the waitress finally heading home. We raise a hand on the steering wheel, like farmers do on long stretches of road when they encounter a passing car, when we see the snow plow driver, the only vehicle on our dark, snowy street in those late night/early morning hours. We acknowledge the front desk clerks, the snow cat operators, delivery folks who work all those odd hours so life goes on, rather seamlessly here. I like being part of that club. Not every night mind you — I’m not that young anymore. But on those Saturday nights that roll into Sunday mornings when the town has been full of hustle and bustle, we slip into — a few of us, for a few hours — a real twilight zone. We are not a city that never sleeps, we sleep quite well, thank you very much. And we do so, because this great army of workers quietly and rather unceremoniously, does their jobs in the still of the night. So this New Year’s I want to raise my glass to folks who probably will not be raising a glass at midnight on their own behalf. They’ll be driving or serving or cleaning or answering the phone or pushing snow aside on the street or packing it down on the hill. Here’s to you, the real Dream Team, because after all, you create the moments that folks remember, long after the night has ended and they have returned home, however near or far that may be. I will work and celebrate with guests and performers and fellow staff members this New Year’s Eve. We will toast with that out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new spirit. And then, maybe sometime next week, I will take a night and turn off the phone and find that cheap bubble bath I got for Christmas and crack that new book. I will call in well the next morning and declare a mental health day and drive on up to Huntsville. That Shooting Star burger and Patsy Cline await me. I will have all this carefully tucked in my head when I lift my glass with friends, new and old, this Saturday night that will become the first day of the New Year when it turns to Sunday, in the Park&