Let’s Meet at the Bill & Helen Skala Beer Tent!
Tonight’s Opening Ceremony of the 66th Annual Leadville Boom Days celebration is an historic one of sorts. At 5 p.m. on August 5 as the Leadville Lions Club makes their annual trek down the avenue carrying the frame for what has been known for years as the Lions Club Beer Garden tent, it will mark the end of an era. And the beginning of a new one with a new name for the iconic structure, which isn’t going anywhere!
Starting this year, it’ll be “Let’s meet at the Bill & Helen Skala Beer Tent,” as locals coordinate get-together plans over Boom Days weekend to meet at the popular beer garden on the corner of 6th & Harrison. That’s right, this Saturday August 6 at 1 p.m. there will be an official Dedication of Leadville Lions Club Beer Tent, re-naming it as the Bill and Helen Skala Beer Tent.
“We’re going to have a polka band there because they always enjoyed polka music,” explained John Cirullo with the Leadville Lions Club. The Jim Ehrlich and the Polka Mates Polka band will be playing at the Bill & Helen Skala Beer Tent from 12:30 – 4 p.m. on August 6 with the official re-dedication happening at 1 p.m.
For those who may not be familiar with the Skalas, Bill and Helen were Leadville community leaders for decades, through the booms, and through the busts, always remaining genuinely dedicated to Leadville and its residents.
While their business ventures included everything from running the lunch room at Ski Cooper, to the memorable Molly Brown Dairy Queen, it’s the family’s lasting legacy of delivering cold beer to folks in the high country via the George F. Rutkey Beer Distributing company, that deems the dedication of the Boom Days beer tent in their honor all the more appropriate.
During Bill Skala’s service on City Council, the streets of Leadville actually got paved! And more than one; imagine that! In fact, during his time as Mayor Pro Tem, Bill secured the recognition for Leadville as an All American City in 1959.
While Helen’s primary dedication was to family, raising their three children, she always found time to serve the community. In fact, it was Mary Jo Copper, this year’s Grand Marshall for the Parade, who reminisced about the time both her and Helen served together on the Leadville Chamber of Commerce Board.
The Skalas were also actively involved in Leadville’s Catholic Church, as well as members of the Leadville Elks and Eagles Lodges, dedicating countless volunteer hours to their community.
“They were always very helpful to anyone who ever came to them,” concluded Cirullo describing the Lions Club reasoning for rededicating the garden tent in their honor.
Bill passed away last November at the age of 96, with his wife Helen preceding him in death nearly a decade earlier. Their long list of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren stands as a testament to a good, decent Leadville life, full of family and a special dedication to community through true civic service.
Be sure to stop by the corner of 6th and historic Harrison Avenue at 1 p.m. on Saturday, to raise a glass on behalf of this worthy Leadville couple. Cheers to you Bill and Helen, you sure deserve it!