It's not unusual for major public events to have an Honorary Chair, someone with local name recognition to aid in promotion of the activity. Rocky Mountain National Park will begin its Centennial Celebration on September 4, 2014, but the selection of U.S. Sen. Mark Udall as Honorary Chair for the Anniversary Celebration includes an interesting personal and historical connection to the park.
At first glance, choosing one of Colorado's two U.S senators as Honorary Chair for the park's upcoming major event would seem an astute choice from both a public relations and political standpoint. Senator Udall is, after all, chairman of the Senate National Parks Subcommittee.
While that position certainly validates his interest in national park matters, it turns out that there are some interesting personal ties for the Udall family to this particular park's history.
According to a park spokesperson, "Senator Udall’s mother helped instill his great sense of adventure and love for the Colorado wilderness. Patricia 'Sam' Udall, was a native Coloradan and avid outdoorswoman. Her father, Roe Emery, was the first concessionaire in Rocky Mountain National Park and part owner of the historic Stanley Hotel in nearby Estes Park. He played an important role in the growth of tourism and the promotion of Rocky Mountain National Park after its creation in 1915."
“As an avid outdoorsman as well as the chairman of the U.S. Senate National Parks Subcommittee, I’m thrilled to help mark the centennial of Rocky Mountain National Park. Countless international visitors, as well as generations of Coloradans — myself included — have come to Rocky Mountain National Park to take in the scenery along Trail Ridge Road, hike the Continental Divide, and see the hundreds of elk and big horn sheep that call the park home. Rocky Mountain National Park is a true treasure, and I encourage all adventurers, young and old, to participate in its centennial celebration by visiting the park,” said Senator Udall.
“Our parks are one of Colorado’s best renewable resources, but we need today’s youth to connect with places like Rocky Mountain National Park…to ensure they are there for future generations to enjoy,” the senator continued.
The year-long Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Celebration will kick-off on September 4, the 99th anniversary of its dedication as a national park. A Re-Dedication Ceremony will bring the celebration to an end on September 4, 2015. Special events and programs will be offered over the course of the year in the park and in the surrounding communities.
It should be an exciting time for the park. Although planning is still underway, you'll find a preliminary list of events that have already been scheduled here, and more information about the Centennial at this link.