COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of adventurous Coloradans are planning for a special celebration on New Year’s Eve atop Pikes Peak, including an extra fireworks show to celebrate the 150th birthday of Colorado Springs. The Pikes Peak AdAmAn Club has made a trek up the the 14,115 mountain each year since 1922 to launch pyrotechnics from the top, so this climb will be its 99th. It’s one of Colorado’s oldest New Year’s traditions.
After hiking up, the group of mountaineers plan to set off 150 fireworks at 9 p.m. to celebrate the sesquicentennial. (There will be fewer members taking part because of COVID-19.) After those are fired, five more shells will light the sky to honor the original five AdAmAn members, as is tradition. At midnight, weather permitting, the club will ring in the New Year with another fireworks display.
The fireworks can usually be seen all throughout the Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs areas.
The club is called “AdAmAn” because the group is supposed to grow by one person each year that the tradition takes place. (It stands for “add a man” but they add women, too.) The “A’s” are capitalized in the name to depict mountains. They shared their history in a news release:
The club started when Fred Barr (who built Barr Trail) and four of his adventurous friends (Fred Morath, Ed Morath, Willis Magee and Harry Standley) made a New Year’s Eve trek to the summit sponsored by the Gazette Telegraph and called the “Gazette Telegraph New Year’s Eve Watch Party.” At 9 pm the group fired a signal rocket to let all know they had arrived safely and all was well. In response, the city electrician, Joe Caldwell, dipped the lights of the city and, future member, John Garrett fired rockets from the roof of the Gazette Telegraph building. At midnight, in the middle of a short blizzard, they shot 175 pounds of rockets and flares which they had carried to the summit.
This year Thomas Lear becomes the 103rd member. He’s a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and instructor at the Air Force Academy. Lear volunteers for a number of local organizations related to Pikes Peak.
The club is splitting up into two groups to make their annual climb as a precaution because of COVID-19 and they’re also ditching their annual pre-hike breakfast. And in case you’re wondering, the mountaineers don’t actually carry all of those fireworks up with them each year. A trailer full of pyrotechnics is driven to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway.
Learn more about the AdAmAn Club at adaman.org.