The tradition began during the Napoleonic Wars, when the French soldiers would use their swords to open champagne bottles, as they lacked anything else with which to do it. Today, the practice is carried on by the Champagne Cascade, a ceremony that has been held for nearly a quarter of a century at the Brown Palace Hotel and Spa.
On November 13, 2011, the Denver holiday season was kicked off by the 24 th annual Champagne Cascade. The General Manager, Marcel Pitton, of the historic hotel first presented a check of $6,000 to Volunteers of America. This preceded Governor John Hickenlooper's speech about Meals on Wheels and its many benefits, beginning the ceremony. Then the music began. Dramatic and full of ceremony, it filled the palace-like hotel, swirling around the already beautiful event and making it a thing of grandeur. It was all the more amazing because a three person band headed by the pianist John Kite was creating it.The father and son from Loveland, CO, Dennis and Matthew Dinsmore, wielded the blade of the Paris imported saber as it came whooshing down. The top of the bottle flew off in a rush of champagne. The next 1.5 liter bottle shared the same fate.
Marcel Pitton and Governor Hickenlooper ascended the stairs to the very top of the pyramid of champagne glasses. The contents of the Magnums were emptied into the top of the pyramid (they fill only the top tiers, as it would take 1,200 bottles to fill all 6,000 glasses), with the governor's son, Teddy, watching from close behind.