Celebration planned July 4 at Many Glacier

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Bellman Jordan Wellinghoff of Champaign, Illinois tends to the fire in the lobby of the Many Glacier Hotel on Tuesday, June 16, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

On July 4, 1915, Many Glacier Hotel opened for business in the northeast corner of Glacier National Park.

This Fourth of July, Glacier National Park and Xanterra Parks and Resorts, the concessions company that runs the park-owned hotel, will open its doors for a centennial celebration including historic walking tours, presentations, music, dinner and a hootenanny.

BJ Elzinga, senior sales manager at Xanterra, said the park and Xanterra have been planning the celebration since last fall, but haven’t advertised it too widely to keep the festivities low-key.

The centennial event is free to attend, aside from the price of entrance into the park. Visitors should remember, however, that the hotel has limited parking.

“Parking between Swiftcurrent and Many Glacier Hotel is frowned on, but they won’t be giving out tickets,” Elzinga said. “As long as they try not to hit anybody or any animals, I think we’ll be OK.”

The celebration kicks off at 11 a.m. with the first of three 45-minute walking tours led by Diane Sine, an interpretive ranger at the park. The other tours will begin at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.

From 2 to 3 p.m., the St. Moritz Room downstairs will host presentations by park Superintendent Jeff Mow and Glacier National Park Conservancy Chief Executive Officer Mark Preiss, followed up with a half-hour presentation on the famed hotel by historian and journalist Ray Djuff.

At 4 p.m., Djuff will sign copies of his book, “Glacier’s Historic Hotels & Chalets: View With a Room,” outside the hotel gift shop.

Dinner starts at 5 p.m. and Sine will give a centennial-themed talk in the Lucerne Room at 8 p.m.

The evening wraps up with a modern take on one of the hotel’s classic hootenannies in the St. Moritz Room at 9 p.m.

The musical cap to the day will feature seasonal employees at the hotel providing a wide range of entertainment, from classical and jazz to theater and opera.

The show hearkens back to a decades-long tradition under then-hotel Manager Ian Tippet, who only hired students from music schools to staff the hotel during its summer season.

“As they hired folks this year, they took that into consideration, finding those with musical talent or theatrical abilities,” said Mylissa Thompson, a Xanterra employee who helped coordinate the centennial events. “It ends up being a good collection of talent and as we get into the year, they get more confident with each other.”

The hootenannies are held each Tuesday and Saturday at the hotel.

The Glacier Park Foundation will hold a private celebration later in July with a reunion expected to bring hundreds of current and former employees to the hotel.

Reporter Samuel Wilson can be reached at 758-4407 or by email at swilson@dailyinterlake.com.

The wooden balconies of the historic Many Glacier Hotel frame kayaker on Swiftcurrent Lake on Tuesday, June 16, in Glacier National Park. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)

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