The king once and for all
[ By Dawne Belloise ]
Fame seemed to follow Crested Butte’s beloved celebrity cat, Mr. Jingles, who crossed that rainbow bridge last week at the ripe old age of 18. He was the actual mayor and ambassador of Crested Butte according to numerous TV news shows, various magazines, tourists, and confirmed by the devotion of the locals and the Ace Hardware store crew. The cat that was named after the kids at CB Academy had his own minor league team (Team Jingles), a Facebook page with 2,300 followers, a birthday party every year, and his own brand of bottled water in the picture. of the. Mr. Jingles is the only fur-bodied four-legged local to have had his own profile written for the Crested speck News.
Mr. Jingles could be seen napping in his various favorite spots throughout the store, depending on how sociable he was feeling at the time, huddled 10 feet above the melee on top of the paint shelf to taking a serious nap in the warm zone or pretending to doze at the lottery machine at the front counter. His followers knew where to look for him to shower him with scratches, hugs and treats. As one of his caretakers for many years, Mikey Strauch noted that Jingles’ social time was when he was at the counter. “Although he seemed to be sleeping, it was where he went to say hello, say hello and talk to the employees,” the conversation mostly revolved around tuna, one of his favorite dishes. He, too, spent a lot of time curled up on his bed by the window, looking out at the world.
Like most of the locals, Jingles had his own costumes and threw the best parties where the entire town celebrated his Cinco de Mayo birthday with a shindig of piñatas, beer, food, and live music that closed the store’s parking lot to diners. hundreds who showed up. There would also be excellent half-birthday parties out of season. As a city cat, Jingles would often head to the bank for a bit of socializing, and probably treats and hanging out under the trees at the Paradise Cafe. He was smart enough to use the crosswalk to the CB Center for the Arts, knowing that he would have to wait for cars to pass or stop, and the locals obliged.
One of Mr. Jingles’ prides was Trent Sweitzer from the Ace Store. “He spent 18 years of his life living outside all summer, he was a tough guy,” he says. Trent recalls a terrifying story early in Jingles’ tenure as a salesman. “I thought he had lost it once. I took him into my home about 15 years ago when he was still quite young. He lived in Seventh and Gothic. He wanted to see how he liked it there.” After Trent fell asleep, he heard the shutters creak, “Jingles had jumped out the window and I couldn’t find him.” The prowling cat stayed out for about a week and Trent thought, “Oh no, I lost Mr. Jingles, and he was probably eaten by a coyote! One night about a week later, my blinds creaked and he came back through the same window. I took it to the store and never brought it home again. The store was his comfortable place, his home, his castle.”
Trent says that when Mr. Jingles was young and crazy, he went hunting all the time. “It was a busy morning in July and I was the only one working the counter at the time. There was a big line of tourists and Jingles came in with a huge squirrel and ran through all the people in line. He started throwing this thing up in the air, it looked like a whale with a seal, and blood started flying everywhere, pools of blood. All the customers were horrified and I was alone so I couldn’t remove it or clean it.”
Mikey Strauch, who was one of the members of the Mr. Jingles pack at the store for years, says, “There were often gills on the ground that he left for us. It was a bloody mess everywhere when we opened the store. He wanted to show us that he was capable of keeping the grounds free of vermin. I have never seen any mice inside the store which is amazing with this amount of square footage…never a mouse. He always left something for us. He was proud of his achievements.” One of Mikey’s favorite memories of Jingles’ antics was from the very beginning. “He was fairly new to the store, about a year old, and he was in the back and a big black crow pounced on him. It was smaller, but it just stood on its hind legs and chased that bird away, because it was his property. He was on all four corners of that property and beyond.”
Mr. Jingles attracted a following for a reason, Mikey feels: “I think partly because of his independence, but also because of his character that made people love him so much. He was not just any cat, he was a very special feline. He did his thing, but he also loved the attention.” However, he notes, “He always left during his own party. He knew that he was getting older. He was devastated,” Mikey says of Jingles’ passing. “He was like one of my children, he greeted me every morning, I played with him every day. He was family to all of us. He manifested his very existence. He chose us. He really did live in a mansion. We opened at 7 am and he was there, jumping on the counters and rubbing himself to say good morning. He brought joy and was a part of not only my life, but so many other people too: people from out of town, out of state, made the effort to come into the store just to see him, from locals to second home owners. The number of lives he touched as part of the community and part of our in-store package was remarkable.”
As word spread throughout the city, Trent says people came to pay their respects and condolences. “People started bringing flowers, someone made a cool metal box with nameplates hanging inside with Jingles’ name and some words, a lot of people still come to this day looking for it because they didn’t know,” says Trent.
And of course, there will be a memorial. “The fire department has offered to parade some of their vehicles, and maybe we’ll have a barbecue, but we haven’t determined when. It just brought so much joy into the lives of so many people. Everyone from children to the elderly loved him because he made them happy, happy enough for 700 people to attend his birthday party. He was family. He will be greatly missed by the many lives he touched. He was a special guy.”
Amber eyes like topaz fire burning in his thick gray coat beneath a crown of gold and jewels, his glorious portrait hangs behind the counter of his palace. Now, there is also a sanctuary for the most beloved feline that once roamed the streets and once emptied city lots of it, a cat we will always celebrate.
Good journey to you Mr. Jingles, The Dog Cat.