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Hundreds of Santas ski at Whiteface Mountain for a day

December 15, 2016
By ROY BOMBARD - Correspondent (news@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON - On Sunday, Dec. 11, Whiteface Mountain hosted its first monthly Give Back Sunday as well as its second annual Santa Ski Free Day.

Skiers who brought a toy or new/gently used coat to the Main Lodge ticket area, received 50 percent off their lift tickets for the day. And those who dressed like Mr. or Mrs. Santa Claus skied for free.

To claim that the Santa promotion was a success might be an understatement. Last year, the mountain had little snow, and this event was scheduled to attract people to the mountain, perhaps invoking the snow gods to take pity on our poor souls and dump some snow. During the first event in 2015, there were 47 Santas who participated, and this year, there were more than 300.

Article Photos

More than 300 people dressed as Santa Claus skied for free at Whiteface Mountain Sunday, Dec. 11.
(Provided photo — Roy Bombard)

Brandee Reiley, who works in marketing and social media at Whiteface, was happy with the turn-out.

"Last year, it was a combination of getting new people on the hill, and getting 50 percent off a lift ticket for donating a toy or a coat," she said. "We have done discounted tickets for contributions for years, and it was our way to attract new skiers and generate meaningful donations. And that's the driving force behind this program. We want to give back."

Asked what participation would make her happier, Reiley said, "Every single person on the mountain would be dressed like Santa! But seriously, we have plenty of new people on the mountain today, and it would be great to have 200 to 300 skiers dressed like Santa, and another 200 to 300 who have contributed to our holiday cause. We would love to get people here on the mountain, knowing we have a wonderful place here in the Adirondack Park."

Invoking higher authorities to create better skiing conditions isn't a new idea. In fact, the plot line in "White Christmas" involved recruiting hundreds of retired soldiers from the Army's 151st Division to visit an inn in Vermont run by the unit's retired major general. Maj. Gen. Waverly purchased the inn and its ski hill, but alas, there is no snow and he is foreseeing economic disaster. Enter Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.

Sam Murphy, who works the guest services desk at Whiteface Mountain, said, "What can I say about the Santa Claus promotion? It is one of the best events we have. ... They arrived in full force today, with big smiles on their faces, and it has spread across the mountain."

Three young ladies from Montreal came for the day and were delighted with their experience.

"We have never been here before, but we wanted to come down and see what the mountain was like and what this event was like," one of them said. "It's amazing! Everyone is into the spirit and are in a doubly good mood. Everyone is dressing-up, and being silly, and having fun."

Jason Sedgewick, manager of lift maintenance, was pleased with the turn-out, but he offered a cautionary tone.

"From a lift maintenance view, we are happy to provide the horsepower to get the Santas around the mountain so they can enjoy their day," he said. "But, from a safety perspective, we have to ensure Santa doesn't get his beard caught on anything, or frozen to the arm bar. You know, safety first."

There were several Boy Scouts with their leaders who collected the donations and packed them for eventual distribution. These young men were from Saranac Lake, Troop 1, and were pleased with the volume of toys and jackets they had collected. Sixty-seven items were collected by Boy Scouts volunteers and given to the New York State Troop B troopers in Ray Brook to be distributed throughout the North Country, according to Whiteface officials.

Overall, the crowd was in a festive mood, the conditions were great, and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the day.

With new snowmaking guns, an abundance of natural snow - 65 inches of natural snowfall as of Sunday -and a positive outlook by their employees, all had a grand time.

 
 

 

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