By John O'Neill
Before the summer is over, EagleVail residents living around the park on Deer Boulevard will wake up to see one of the state’s - and quite possibly the nation’s and perhaps the world’s - largest homemade slip and slide. The unprecedented summer event happens only one time a year and will slip into its fourth year this August.
EagleVail resident Jeremy Windham is the mastermind behind the surprise event, with some help from friends Tyler Madison, Barrett Chow, Kyle Woolley and various neighbors. The slip and slide is made from three 100-foot long painters’ tarps Windham bought at a Home Depot for $50 apiece. Windham also connects five or six hoses that will run water from his house to the slide.
The tarps link together and cascade down the rolling hills at the park on Deer Boulevard. Slip and slide riders use dish soap to become slippery enough to carry themselves through the trough of one steep hill before descending the second, and then the third. The journey is 300-feet long if riders can manage to stay on the tarps, which often involves the near-hopeless navigation technique of rolling side to side. The sliders reach somewhere between 15 and 30 mph, depending on whether or not and how fast the rider runs and dives onto the slide.
“It’s a ton of fun, every year it’s a ton of fun,” Windham says. “Now that we are into our fourth year, I don’t think we can stop. It’s a tradition now.”
The slide has grown in popularity among Eagle-Vail residents who can’t help but notice the snaking tarp stretched down the park. The first year, Windham says they had only a group of friends. The second year they had upwards of 100 people. Not to mention a fire truck stopped by to take the flow from garden hose-fast to firehouse-fast. By the third year, when news spread that “today is the slip and slide day,” more than 200 EagleVail residents, including both children and adults, came out to have a turn or two.
Outside of the valley, the slip and slide has gained worldwide fame through a home video that has gone viral on YouTube. The most popular video was taken three years ago by YouTube channel YvonneDodds, titled “SUPER Homemade Slip & Slide in Vail Colorado!” and had 1,415,338 views as of last week.
The video has been “liked” 1,463 times, “disliked” 38 times and has 787 comments in several languages. The most recent comment was added two days ago. The most-liked comment comes from user theguymjp and reads simply, “America is made of so much awesome.”
Another comment from user Adam Savage reads “This is the longest slip ‘n slide I’ve seen on YouTube.” And Savage may be right. Currently a 124-foot slip and slide in Duluth, Minn., that was filmed on July 28, has got attention for being a long ride.
Another video made by EagleVail resident Heather O’Brien, or YouTube user Bug424, shows the fire department giving an extra boost to a few riders. Titled “giant slip and slide in Eagle-Vail CO,” the video has 128,825 views, 216 likes, 23 dislikes and 80 comments.
O’Brien, who says she doesn’t use her YouTube account often, was surprised when ESPN called her to feature her video in one of their wild-and-wacky video segments. She has also received calls from other, smaller stations to feature the same video.
O’Brien even put down the video camera to take a slide herself and says the whole thing is a great time for all ages.
“It’s so fast. It’s so big” O’Brien says, emphasis on the “so”. “The park is awesome for it. The kids have no fear, but the adults should go and try it, too.”
Windham hadn’t a clue of the attention he and his friends had created with their slip and slide until last week. In addition to YvonneDodds’ and O’Brien’s videos, other home videos of the slide have earned between 200 and 6,000 views with various comments.
The slip and slide is slated to stretch down the park again this year. Keeping with tradition, the exact date is being withheld, but Windham says that you can expect to see it set up some weekend in August.