AROUND TOWN: Former Cripple Creek Casino now community's nonprofit Aspen Mine Center

July 11, 2013 Updated: July 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm
photo - Andrea Johnson models a black and white out with a sparkly top as she walks through the audience.  Photo by Linda Navarro, The Gazette
Andrea Johnson models a black and white out with a sparkly top as she walks through the audience. Photo by Linda Navarro, The Gazette  

Spring was in "Full Bloom" at Cripple Creek's Aspen Mine Center on May 31.

Colorful murals harkening back to the building's casino days were accentuated with bright paper flowers of every hue, which carried out the theme of that area's first fashion show fundraiser.

Sponsored by Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mining Co. and Cripple Creek Hospitality House and RV Park, Full Bloom brought together residents and those from casinos and businesses throughout Teller County to enjoy an evening of good food, camaraderie, music and a variety of fashions worn by local women. The clothing was supplied by The Gold Miner's Daughter.

Show coordinator Angie Trelstad, who most days is better known as the senior advocate at Aspen Mine Center, called the event "quite a success."

Her models, all greeted enthusiastically by the hometown crowd, included Dani Adkins, Angela Blythe, Katelynn Brown, Lisa Carroll, Angelica Farley, Kristie Haines, Andrea Johnson, Kiara Kidd, Angela Komar, Erin Lanning, Erin Patterson, Gina Pellegi, Tara Tarasi, Mallorie Trichell and Shelly Borden, wife of center executive director Ted Borden.

Providing the evening's music were Hope Smith and Bill Wright, Greg Brazill, Kenny Johnston, and Bob, Martin and Rick Lays, who had owned the Palace Hotel next door. Casinos and restaurants seduced guests with gourmet goodies and sommelier William Fonda discussed wine choices.

Full Bloom which featured flowers by archaeologist Carol Sherman, was also a perfect opportunity to showcase the Aspen Mine Center and share its story. One of the town's casinos, located on Bennett Avenue beside the now-empty Palace Hotel, closed in the late 1990s. That's all it took for longtime School District RE-1 art teacher Mary Bielz to spring into action. The former Salvation Army volunteer and board member had watched all the poverty and needs grow in the old mining camp.

Bielz contacted the Aspen Mine Casino owners in the East and basically asked them for the empty building. Amazingly, the answer was "yes" - if the Community of Caring Foundation received its 501c3 nonprofit status for a one-stop location for the area's social services and human services programs and operated successfully for three years.

They succeeded in spades. The Aspen Mine Center opened on June 1, 2002, and last year had a 10th anniversary celebration. More than two dozen programs are housed there.

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