Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sun Valley isn't an impossible dream

Holdings to be fêted for their successes in Idaho

Express Staff Writer

Earl and Carol Holding Photo by Willy Cook

Earl and Carol Holding love the song "To Dream an Impossible Dream." Time and time again the couple has shown there is nothing they can't achieve, even the impossible.

Earl Holding was a wealthy, though little-known oil and lodging executive from Wyoming when he bought Sun Valley Resort from Bill Janss in 1977.

The owners of Little America and Sinclair Oil, the Holdings have since invested millions in state-of-the-art snowmaking systems, lift equipment and new day lodges and restaurants. Holding is quoted in Ski magazine in 1999 that owning Sun Valley has been a "labor of love ... Sun Valley is beautiful. Aside from one parcel that Bill Janss had subdivided into lots and which we sold the remainder of, we haven't sold any of the land."

It's because of these efforts that the Sun Valley community at large felt it was high time to honor the folks who've owned the resort for 29 years.

The mayor of Sun Valley, Jon Thorson, said talks about a tribute began a while back.

"We wanted to fold the Sun Valley city comprehensive plan into the Holding's vision for the valley as much as we possibly could," Thorson said. "They have done spectacular things for this community. First, we thought maybe we should name a street after them. Someone else wanted to raise money for a statue. Others like (Ketchum City Councilwoman) Terry Tracy and Dave Theobald thought we should have a grand party. A committee eventually came together and worked out the strategy. It really is sort of a family afternoon and dinner party."

The Earl and Carol Holding Tribute Committee—Peggy Tierney, Cornelia Eldridge, Joe Fos, Claude Guigon, Mary Jo Helmeke, Norma Douglas, Kevin Booth, Tom Nickel, Sherry Propst, Mike Turzian, Tracey and Theobald—all stressed how much fun the party on Sunday afternoon will be.

"We hope as many people who've had something to do with Sun Valley and the Holdings over the years will join us," Tierney said.

Theobald, a part-time resident of Sun Valley, said he was aware of how much the Holdings had done for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony.

"I thought we should pay tribute for what they had not done. They did not build out Sun Valley Road for their economic benefit. We got donations to keep it affordable so anybody could come—ranging from the city of Sun Valley to individuals, The Community School, the Symphony, Sun Valley Garden Center to Silver Creek Outfitters, Roosevelt and Sawtooth, the Pioneer and many Realtors."

Theobald added that the ground swell in the community made his first foray into fund raising remarkably easy. The tickets for the dinner sold out within 48 hours.

"The nice thing is we've raised a generous amount of money to set up a Ski Education Foundation scholarship in the Holdings' name," he said.

The dinner at the Limelight Room will host the Holdings as honored guests, with immediate family and close friends at two tables.

"There'll also be brief words from Wally Huffman (Sun Valley Co. general manager), Jed Gray, who'll talk about what it's meant to families and people in the community, and Rick Kapala, who'll briefly talk about opportunities for youth in skiing," Thorson said. "There will also be a toast or two and the rest is entertainment. Joe Fos will play the Holdings' favorite song, 'The Impossible Dream,' the Vaurnettes and the Plaids will perform and a DVD on the history of the valley and the (Averell) Harriman years will play on big screens."

Party & Dinner

Two events will honor Earl and Carol Holding Sunday, Jan. 29:

· A family-oriented event at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge at Dollar Mountain, from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. with the participation of the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation, the Sun Valley Skating Club and school children of the Wood River Valley. Cocoa and cookies will be served. The event is free.

· A celebration dinner at 6 p.m. in the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn, with a seated dinner and entertainment. The dinner is sold out.

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