I think it was the contrast of the events that touched me so profoundly. It seemed a typical evening in the newspaper business where there wasn't enough reporters to go around. Concerts, programs, light parades, the list goes on and on.
Saturday night I attended the Christmas Light Parade in Helper and then quickly ran to Price to take in the Tribute to Desolation Canyon, a program presented by the students of Prescott College. Both events were firsts for me and incredible, but different in their own right. Christmas truly came alive in Helper as float after float brightened the evening skies and drew applauds and cheers from the large crowds that lined the streets. Popular carols filled the air as children, wrapped in warm blankets, sipped hot chocolate and watched Christmas unfold on the backs of trailers and trucks. I love Christmas and all it represents and the Helper parade was certainly the highlight of my season so far this year.
From Helper, I made it to the civic auditorium just in time for the opening curtain of the program entitled, "The Hidden Wonders of Carbon County."
The difference between the two events was like night and day. In Helper the thousands of twinkling lights brought smiles to happy faces and the message of the holiday, Meanwhile in Price, the story of a river and a canyon was brought to life through dance, song, and music. The tribute to Desolation Canyon marked the fruition of a semester designed to learn about and create a tribute by students from the Arizona college.
According to instructor Liz Faller in her opening remarks, "We have received greatly from this place. Prescott College has been bringing students here for 30 years. This is our way of expressing our gratitude."
So why Desolation Canyon? It's a unique geological and historical area that runs through the extreme eastern portion of Carbon County. Words spoken in the introduction included vast, awe-inspiring, gigantic, starkly beautiful, historical and layers upon layers of quiet that move into deep silence.
"This place humbles you and brings you to your knees with respect," said Faller.
It is the deepest canyon in Utah and with adjacent public and Ute lands, it totals nearly one million acres, a size that sustains life forms and qualities that are rare and precious. In 1969 it was named a National Historic landmark because it is an area that has changed the least in the Colorado River system since John Wesley Powell's journey down the Green River in 1869.
The visionary of this project was Dennis Willis, local BLM outdoor recreation planner. While the program was made possible through the Price City Culture Connection and councilwoman, Liz Kourianos.
The energy the college students brought to the stage was incredible. It brought me back to the days when I worked as a public relations director in Montana and had numerous opportunities to work with the youth. Their talent and enthusiasm showed through as they portrayed their interpretation of Desolation Canyon, from the forces of time, the contrast of the canyon, erosion and the canyon as a sanctuary.
For me, the most impressive segment was titled "Ancestors", where Andrew Wholsen presented a narrative, accompanied by his flute, while poetry by Steven Tanner was read by Catlin Smith and the dancers moved with grace and beauty to the paintings by Serena Supplee. It was indeed the most elegant presentation of dance and art I ever remember seeing and told the story of the canyon's ancestors.
The performance was a culmination of a three course interdisciplinary projects in Environmental Studies and Performing Arts.
It was truly beautiful.