Catching up with Santa Claus: “It’s the most rewarding job”

With Christmas less than two weeks away, we thought it would be a good time to check in with Santa Claus, who must be busy as a bee these days. On weekends during Winter on the Mountain, he can be found in the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park warming hut, chatting with his fans and hearing Christmas requests (this year Legos are all the rage, as well as anything related to the movie Frozen). We found Santa taking a well-deserved break, and he agreed to share some insight on what it’s like to be the most popular man around Glenwood Springs (and everywhere else) this time of the year.

Santa Claus and a visitor, engaged in deep conversation in the warming hut at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Santa and Mrs. Claus (sometimes referred to as Randy and Sandy Schriever) run a serious operation. “There’s much more to it than putting on a red suit and sitting in a chair,” says Mr. Claus. “When I talk to a child, I do more than just take a photo and ask what they want. I like to talk to them about how it’s important to do well in school, do your chores, brush your teeth, and be nice to your brothers and sisters because they will be your best friends someday.”

Mrs. Claus is responsible for working the line, getting some key tidbits of information about the kids, and then relaying it back to Santa so by the time a child sits on his lap, he’ll usually know their name and a few things about them. “The kids are blown away; they ask ‘How did you know my name?!’” Mrs. Claus also keeps the line organized and entertains the kids in line, a very important job, especially when it’s busy!

“The best thing is the Elf on a Shelf,” says Santa, speaking about the popular kid’s toy, an elf that watches over the child during the day and reports back to Santa each night. “I like to find out the name of their elf beforehand, and tell them the elf came to see me, and where he might be hiding the next day (with some teamwork from parents). I’ve had parents call me to tell me that their child really became a believer, and that they were so happy because they got to have their kid be a kid for one more year.”

Santa has had all manners of requests over the years; some funny, and some heartbreaking. “Sometimes kids ask if they can keep one of my reindeer as a pet,” laughs Santa, “or a horse or pony or some other animal that probably won’t be the easiest present to get.” Santa Claus often gets requests for the child’s parents to get back together, or to return from serving overseas in the military. “Once, a mom let me know that her husband had been killed in active duty, and she hadn’t told their daughter yet. The girl’s request to me was that her father come home. In those situations, it’s really important to say the right thing.”

For help with handling such situations, Santa goes to school. Organizations like “School for Santa” and “Professional Santa Claus” offer intensive trainings that help Santa deal with serious moments, as well as the legalities and general dos and don’ts of dealing with children. There is even a cruise that Santa goes on, where he is joined by hundreds of his brethren from all over the world to swap stories and help each other become the best Santas they can be.

Mr. and Mrs. Claus got their start about 20 years ago, volunteering for a church group. It went so well that other church groups, schools and hospitals started sending requests for their time, which they donated happily. It wasn’t until a few years ago that someone suggested Mr. and Mrs. Claus start working for money, which they realized they could use to buy stuffed animals for children in the hospital. For the Clauses, hospital visits are truly special. “There’s a quote that says ‘there is nothing better in the world than the laugh of a child.’ Sometimes I visit a child in the hospital who has a serious illness and may not have very long to live. But when they see Santa, there is a gleam in their eye and for a few minutes, there’s no illness, no worry, no problems. Putting a smile on their face is the best thing in the world.”

Santa Claus is also involved with, where kids can call Santa from home and video chat with him live. It’s perfect for children who may have mobility issues, or for kids who just can’t get enough. “One child had seen me a few weeks ago at Glenwood Caverns, and called from the website because he just had more to talk to me about!”

“It’s a very fun, rewarding, and exciting month and a half,” says Santa. “We take it very seriously, and we love what we do. We’ve met a lot of wonderful people and good children.”

For Santa’s schedule at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, visit and scroll down to “Santa for the Kids.”

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Winter on the Mountain Kickoff: Angels, Santa Claus, and so much more!

On Friday, November 21st, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park officially kicked off Winter at the Mountain! With roaming angel carolers (The Harmony Sisters), the Coca-Cola bear on hand to give out stuffed bears, and Santa Claus himself (along with Mrs. Claus), it was a fun night for all who made the journey from Glenwood Springs or beyond.

Santa Claus received lots of little visitors in the warming hut, and took time to chat with each child about their Christmas wishes. Kids sipped hot chocolate afterwards, and some parents opted to order their hot drink spiked! To view a schedule of Santa’s upcoming appearances, click here and scroll down to “Santa for the Kids.”

The giant Christmas tree put on a choreographed light and music show every thirty minutes—something truly special to behold. The impressive light display that seems to “dance” along with the Christmas music is not to be missed!

The Lookout Grille served up family-style entrees, a new concept at the park. Evening diners can order from a select menu of entrees that include unlimited sides of sweet potato casserole, seasonal fritters, and more. “It’s a different offering for the winter, to add to the whole experience. We thought it was a fun, new idea, and we’ve had a good reaction to the food so far,” says Shiela Kendall, special events manager at the park. “It’s about family bonding, which is what the holidays are all about!” To view the dinner family-style menu, click here.

The Alpine Coaster is even more fun when it's all lit up at night!

The Glenwood Caverns lighting team worked countless hours to light up the park, from the base of the tram to the sides of the tracks on the Alpine Coaster and everywhere in between. With 500,000 lights and a fresh coat of snow, the park truly felt like a winter wonderland.

Caroling angels The Harmony Sisters serenaded park visitors with holiday classics and good cheer.

For those feeling a little chilly on the tram ride up or down the mountain, the trams are stocked with cozy fleece blankets, and tram-goers can marvel at the views of the lights of the city of Glenwood Springs.

Winter on the Mountain will be open from 10am to 9pm all Thanksgiving week, except for Thanksgiving Day. Bring the whole family and check out the dazzling light displays and fun activities for yourself!

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Light It Up!

What’s the biggest challenge of hanging up 500,000 lights in the middle of a busy park on the side of a mountain? Pretty much…everything!

Mr. and Mrs. Claus in front of one of the dazzling light displays featured on Winter on the Mountain

“Really, the hardest part has been just hanging them on a mountain. It’s not nice terrain like in town or at Disneyland. I was literally just sliding down a mountain a few minutes ago!” laughs Charmian Featherstone, the lighting director in charge of the endeavor to bathe Glenwood Caverns in light.

“We’ve been hard at it since September,” says Featherstone. The lights are part of the new Winter on the Mountain, which also features a giant animated Christmas tree, holiday Santa, family-style dining, s’mores and hot chocolate, and much more. Visitors will be able to zoom down lighted rides (Alpine Coaster and Soaring Eagle Zip Ride) at night and explore the Kings Row Cave Tour with holiday lighting.

The lighting crew, which includes about seven people, has been working while harnessed in and using lifts on the mountain slope. Lifts are typically used on flat surfaces, and using them on the mountain has made the crew’s work more interesting, to say the least. Using harnesses has also presented challenges. “We’re hanging off buildings and trees. When the wind blows, it’s a little scary. We watch the weather a lot to see what we can and can’t do that day.” The crew has also had to take into account future weather patterns, such as how much snow would cover up a certain display.

“We’ve learned so much from this project. We’re constantly thinking about weather, mathematics, color schemes, electricity, and design. We make a design of each building first, and practice in the dark to find the effect that we’re looking for.”

The Glenwood Caverns stage, just one of many buildings to be wrapped in lights as part of Winter on the Mountain

The lights themselves are a mixture of LED and incandescent bulbs. There are two different shades of white, and also red, green and blue. The display is so impressive that the lighting crew has seen a couple of small airplanes switch direction to come check out the view.

“The trees have been my favorite part to light,” Featherstone says. Trees both at the tram base and up top will be lit up, in addition to the giant Christmas tree.

“When you’re up here at night and see them lit up, then the fun kicks in. You say, ‘wow, we did it. It’s working!’

‘It’s great to see our employees’ sense of accomplishment; to see and feel it, since they don’t really get the effect during the day. We can’t wait for the public to join us to see the lights!”

Winter on the Mountain is open Friday through Sunday, from 10am to 9pm. For the full effect of the dazzling lights, it’s best to come after dark. For more information, visit Winter on the Mountain.

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Missing Link Band celebrates change at the last 2014 Music on the Mountain concert

This Saturday, September 20th marks the last Music on the Mountain concert of 2014. It’s become something of a tradition for The Missing Link Band to close out the concert series, and the band will return again to play the last show. It will be a special show for a variety of reasons.

The Missing Link Band will debut new additions to the band and say farewell to a longtime member on Saturday, Sept. 21 for the last free Music on the Mountain concert of 2014

It’s been a year of big changes for the band, whose bass player, Paul Barker, moved to Florida to be closer to family. “We spent the last six months trying to fill his shoes, and it wasn’t easy,” says Nick Kuhlmann, the band’s drummer and sound engineer. They finally found Doug Whitney, who hails from Marble, to fill the roll. “He’s shown a lot of capabilities,” Kuhlmann says.

Paul Barker is returning from Florida to perform at Music on the Mountain on Saturday. “The show is going to be a farewell to Paul,” says Kuhlmann. “He’s an original founding member, we’ve been playing together for over 14 years. He’s more than a band member; he’s a brother.”

The show will also be the introduction of Doug Whitney to the band’s fans. “Glenwood Caverns is our biggest show,” Kuhlmann points out. “It’s really the proper venue to introduce Doug and let him know what he’s in for!”

There are other new additions to the band, too. Glenwood Caverns’ own Restaurant & Retail Manager, Bob Stepniewski, has joined the band on percussion. Additionally, Louie Girardot of the popular local band Louie and the Lizards is the band’s new keyboard player. “We were going to hire him as the bass player until we found out how good he was on keyboard. He really rounds out the sound,” says Kuhlmann.

“I like to call it the evolution of The Missing Link Band. We’re going to keep playing the same music. People love our diversity, that’s the main compliment we get. With the additional percussion and keys, we’re going to be able to go to places we haven’t gone before. We can cover parts now for material we’ve always wanted to play. But we’re still all about the stuff that would make my mom dance, as I like to say. That’s what is the most important–to keep playing music that everyone can enjoy.”

Kuhlmann encourages everyone to come out to the show to have fun, enjoy the new, fuller sound and say goodbye to Paul Barker. “Having Paul be leaving feels a bit like having my right arm cut off. But we wish him well, and as Paul would tell you–it’s not goodbye, it’s just til’ next time.”

Bring at least one can of food to donate for a free tram ride to the top! We are still trying to reach our goal of 10,000 cans donated to Lift Up, and we need all the help we can get! Even after the music stops, Glenwood Caverns will continue to collect cans at the base of the tram until the end of the month (although you will no longer get a free tram ride for donating after this Saturday). Visit Music on the Mountain for more information.

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Let Them Roar: “American musical melting pot” returns to Music on the Mountain stage

There’s only a couple Music on the Mountain concerts left! With autumn colors already appearing on the hillsides and the crisp, vibrant feel of fall in the air, it couldn’t be a better time to head up to Glenwood Caverns this Saturday. Carbondale-based favorites Let Them Roar will be performing, and this fun-loving group is the perfect band for September dancing, relaxation and fun!

Let Them Roar (previously known as All the Pretty Horses) has been together since 2010; they originally formed around exploring the music of Bob Dylan. They were influenced by a variety of sources, including legendary country singer George Jones and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. Their diverse influences led to a sound that the band describes as an “American musical melting pot.”

Don’t miss Let Them Roar at the free Music on the Mountain concert this Saturday, September 13

Let Them Roar made their debut at Music in the Mountain in 2013, and they took the stage by storm with their unique blend of country rock, rock, jazz and bluegrass. The group is comprised of Olivia Pevec (vocals), Mateo Sandate (guitar), Ashton Taufer (bass), Aaron Taylor (drums), Frank Martin (guitar, mandolin, lap steel, vocals) and Sophia Clark (vocals).

The band performs all around the valley; this year they appeared at Mountain Fair in Carbondale and Strawberry Days in Glenwood Springs. They regularly rock out at local hot spots like Steve’s Guitars and Phat Thai.

In December, Let Them Roar released an EP of their tunes, which you can listen to and purchase here. The August “Maroon Bells Bash Celebrating 50 Years of Wilderness” event saw the band performing alongside well-known indie folk bands Paper Bird and The Shook Twins. Overall, it’s been a pretty great year for the band!

Saturday’ show will also feature great deals on food and drink, with rides open until dusk. Bring at least one can of food to donate for a free tram ride to the top. We’re getting close to our goal of 10,000 cans (7,040 donated so far), and with two shows left every can really counts! Visit Music on the Mountain for more information. Hope to see you there!

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The Goodman Band makes their Music on the Mountain debut Saturday, Sept. 6

This weekend will be a double-dose of Music on the Mountain, with shows on Saturday and Sunday. First up on September 6th is The Goodman Band, a hard rockin’ trio based out of Grand Junction. The Goodman Band is comprised of Gerry Goodman (guitar and lead vocals), John Brown (bass guitar) and Darin Elwell (drums). The three of them produce a huge sound together, and we can’t wait to hear what they will bring to the Music on the Mountain stage for the first time! We asked Gerry Goodman for a little background on the band to get us even more pumped for the show.

NJ: What’s the “origin story” of The Goodman Band?
GG: Darin and I started playing together eight or nine years ago in Grand Junction. We were the “house band” for a bar called DJ’s Roadhouse. John joined us about four years ago and we’ve become quite a tight little unit.

NJ: Did you grow up playing music?
GG: I was three years old when I started taking guitar seriously. I actually have an old photo of me playing a plastic guitar when I was a year and a half old, it’s pretty funny! I was a young teenager when I finally got the courage to play in front of people and I was 17 when I started playing for a living.

NJ: Who were you influenced by?
GG: My musical influences are vast. I grew up listening to Elvis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry….all those guys from the 50′s. As soon as my dad brought home the first Beatles album (Meet The Beatles), it was game over! I’ve been a Beatles fan since ’64. I didn’t take much stock in the blues until I heard Johnny Winter and then Stevie Ray Vaughan. I fell in love with the blues and I started doing my homework to see who influenced Johnny and Stevie. I grew up on country music too: Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, and Glen Campbell.

NJ: What was one of your best times performing as a band?
GG: We got to open Rock Jam 2009 [in Grand Junction] on the Main Stage; that was fun and scary! We also opened Country Jam 2010 on the Main Stage as our Stevie Ray Vaughan Tribute Band (Texas Flood). Some of the bigger events here in Grand Junction are fun to play, like the Colorado Pork & Hops Challenge. We’ve had lots of fun gigs over the last nine years.

The Goodman Band brings good times and good tunes to the free show on Saturday

NJ: Where are your favorite places to play?
GG: Every winter we get to play in Aspen at a place called the Sundeck on top of Aspen Mountain. You get to meet people from all over the world there! The Black Nugget in Carbondale is always a blast, as is the Powderhorn Ski Resort.

NJ: What is the best part about playing professionally as a musician/band?
GG: The best part of being in a band is when we’re on stage and the three of us are hitting on all cylinders. We’ve played together for so long that we know what each other is thinking and what note or beat is coming next.

NJ: How do you try to connect with the audience when you play?
GG: When doing cover tunes, it helps to do songs the audience knows, that way they’re already halfway there as far as having fun. Some songs lend themselves to singing along with us; once you get them singing along, they feel like part of the show!

NJ: How would you best describe the sound of the band?
GG: We’ve been described as the fullest sounding three-piece band out there. I’ve learned to play rhythm and lead guitar simultaneously, much like all my favorite three-piece bands: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Who, Nirvana, and so on. We over-play to fill in the holes in the music and it sounds pretty phat!

NJ: Anything else you would like people to know about The Goodman Band?
GG: The Goodman Band takes pride in being able to play nearly any kind of music, and quite authentically. We play everything from country to rockabilly to classic rock to blues to heavy metal to acoustic. We are proudly fearless. Come and check us out !

Bring at least one can of food to donate to Lift-Up for a free tram ride to the top. Help us reach our goal of 10,000 cans this year! For more information, visit Music on the Mountain.

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Sunday Music on the Mountain show features faith-based music

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is pleased to present a special Sunday concert as part of the Music on the Mountain series this weekend! The Sunday, Sept. 7th show will feature faith-based music from New Creation Church and Jerry Alcorta (performing with The King’s Loyal).

Alcorta has performed at Music on the Mountain in years past with Carbondale church The Orchard. However, for The King’s Loyal, the Music on the Mountain show will be their first performance together as a band and a treat to see for concert-goers! The five member group will perform covers of faith-based bands as well as songs by Johnny Cash, Dave Matthews Band, Coldplay, U2, and more.

Alcorta currently heads up the music and arts department for The Orchard. He’s been playing music professionally since the age of 20, and has traveled the world with his guitar. “One of the best experiences was going to China,” he remembers. Alcorta toured along the coast from Shanghai to Beijing, performing for humanitarian groups working in the area. “It was so great to get to know people from the states in a totally different environment, and to get together to help people in need.”

Jerry Alcorta and The King's Loyal will perform together for the first time on Sunday, September 7

Alcorta was heavily influenced by his father, who played guitar and inspired Alcorta to take up the instrument as well. He also cites U2, the band Need to Breathe, and country stars like Brad Paisley and Keith Urban for helping him to find his own voice. This diverse blend of influences has helped Alcorta to create a unique sound all his own, a sound that connects and resonates with the audience. “It’s all about blending music, life and faith. We just want people to come out and have a good time.”

Says Alcorta, “The best part about playing music is seeing people think beyond themselves and realize that there is more to life than jobs or schedules. God plays a big part in my music. All I can hope for is that the music I play is bigger than just me.”

New Creation Church will also be taking the stage at Music on the Mountain this Sunday. Their Worship Team performs contemporary Christian rock, and last year they got the crowd moving with a fun, upbeat show. “We’re very high energy, not what people would think of as a church group,” said Melissa Hefferon, the team’s leader.

The New Creation Church Worship Team will bring their high energy to the free show on Sunday

2014 has been a busy year for the Worship Team. “It’s been a great year for us!” says Hefferon. “We recorded a five-song EP of original music that we will be selling up on the mountain on Sunday.”

“The EP is an expression of our hearts towards God,” says Hefferon. “The songs are uplifting and inspiring, about the goodness and faithfulness of God in our lives. We had a great time writing and recording the songs. The creative process brought out the best in our team, and now that we have done this project I know we will be doing more!”

“We can’t wait for Sunday!” Hefferon says. “It’s always a fun time!”

Sunday’s show is earlier than normal; Can for a Tram starts at 2 pm and music starts at 4 pm. For more information, visit Music on the Mountain. Hope to see you there!

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Caleb Dean Band brings country twang to Music on the Mountain

Country fans rejoice! This Saturday’s Music on the Mountain show features the country and Western swing group Caleb Dean Band, and they are prepared to have a great time. “We have so much fun it should be a crime!” says Caleb Dean, the lead singer and band’s namesake. “Folks that come out to see and hear the music, they always give you great energy to perform.”

The Caleb Dean Band will perform a free show this Saturday, August 23rd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

The Caleb Dean Band is comprised of Dean, Dean’s son Parker Wade, Brian “Twang” Lemke, Larry Gottlieb, Don “Professor” Pennington, Rod Taylor, and Billy Harmon. They have been together for about two years and play lots of gigs around the Western Slope, typically favoring places like the 4Eagle Ranch and the T Lazy 7. “Those are the best for our country dancin’ friends,” says Dean. Caleb Dean and the band are excited to share their sound with the crowd at Music on the Mountain for the first time. “This will be our first time on the mountain, we’re lookin’ forward to performing some great country music for y’all!”

Caleb Dean has been playing music since the age of 10, and counts Roger Miller and Hank Williams among his influences, as well as “the guy my mother loved: the great Elvis!” He is also a big fan of country legend George Strait: “He is the real deal of country music.”

Dean was born in Indiana, but raised in Glenwood Springs. He moved to Nashville for a time to write and record music, but couldn’t escape his love of the Rockies and ended up back in Colorado.

Caleb Dean passed his love of country music on to his children: his son Parker Wade plays guitar and mandolin with the band, and has been performing onstage since about the age Caleb himself started. His other son, Keenan Date, lives in Nashville (brother Parker plays in his band as well, the Keenan Date Band) and collaborates with his dad on original tunes. “They’re really good songs, and the reviews are good!” says Dean.

To keep up with Caleb Dean and the boys, visit their website at You can join their email list to find out where and when they’ll be playing and what’s new with the band.

Come up to the park this Saturday to enjoy “classic country with a twang,” drink specials, rides and attractions, and gorgeous views! Bring at least one can of food to donate for a free tram ride to the top. For more information, visit Music on the Mountain.

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Catch Already Gone at Music on the Mountain Saturday, August 16

Already Gone takes the stage for the free Music on the Mountain concert series this Saturday, August 16th

This Saturday, Already Gone will make their fourth appearance at Music on the Mountain! The popular local band has had a great year since they last graced the stage at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. They took 1st place in this summer’s Strawberry Days Battle of the Bands competition, and they’ve also been traveling to perform events in other states. “In my opinion this has been our best year yet,” says Lisa Poplish, lead singer of Already Gone.

The band, known for covering a large variety of genres, has been working on refining their sound. “We’ve been learning new material and polishing up the classics,” Poplish says.

Another exciting development was the addition of bass player Christian Basso who, according to Poplish, “absolutely tears it up!”

August  is Already Gone’s busiest month: among other engagements, they performed at the Garfield County Fair in Rifle and will travel to Nevada at the end of the month for a two-night street party. In September, you can see the band at First Friday in Carbondale and opening for Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband in Silt, to name just a few spots. Says Poplish, “We are so busy we almost don’t know what to do about it, but don’t get me wrong, we love that!”

“What can I say? We’re living the dream!”

Be sure to join Already Gone for the free show this Saturday. Rides and attractions are open until dusk, drink specials will be offered, and if you bring at least one can of food to donate you can ride the tram for free! Visit Music on the Mountain for more information.

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Music on the Mountain and Fifty50 return to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Music on the Mountain is back! After taking a break during the summer high season, the concert series is returning this Saturday, August 9. The remaining concert schedule is full of great bands, and it’s a perfect way to take advantage of the late summer and early fall on the mountain.

Helping get back into the swing of things is popular local band Fifty50. These previous Local’s Choice winners are experts at playing to the crowd and sharing their enthusiasm for the music. The band is comprised of Beth Getzen Stoltzfus, Dave Stoltzfus, Dale Loper, Jerry Larsen and Brian Brown. They play an upbeat mixture of classic rock ‘n’ roll and original tunes.

Taking the stage for a third year at Glenwood Caverns, the band just likes to have fun together. “We have so much fun on stage!” says Beth Getzen Stoltzfus. “There’s no stress, no egos, we’re just friends–a family, really–and our performances just show our love for each other and for what we do.”

Fifty50 to perform at the return of Music on the Mountain on Saturday, August 9

“What sets us apart from other bands is the harmony blend between myself, Dave, and Dale. A lot of our songs are harmonies the whole way through. You don’t see that with a lot of bands.”

Fifty50 has had a busy summer, playing gigs up and down the Western Slope from Eagle to New Castle and everywhere in between. Since their first 2002 performance together at Rivers Restaurant in Glenwood Springs, the band has become a popular staple in the Roaring Fork Valley music scene. “We have had so much support over the years,” says Stoltzfus. “We are just so honored that we can live, work, and play in this valley.”

Make sure you enjoy every last bit of the gorgeous Glenwood Springs summer and come hang out with Fifty50 this Saturday! There will be drink specials, and rides and attractions are open until dusk. Bring at least one can of food to donate to Lift-Up for a free tram to the top. Can for a Tram starts at 4pm, and the music is from 6 to 10pm. See you there!

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