By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Finding a way for people to safely come together in spite of Covid-19 while still following the recommended social distancing guidelines has led to creative ideas and events. Celebrations are common amongst ski areas to commemorate New Year’s Eve or the end of a season, though in light of the current pandemic, why should one need a special reason to coordinate or attend something just for pure enjoyment.
“We really wanted to do something right now because Canaan Valley is experiencing one of the best winters in years,” said Paige Perfect, Marketing Manager at Timberline Mountain. “Everybody’s been having a great time, so the folks over at Canaan contacted us to do something to celebrate what an excellent season it has been,” she said.
Canaan Valley Ski Mountain Manager Adam Cassidy reached out to Timberline Mountain General Manager Daniel “Boonie” Neff to inquire if they would be interested in participating in a joint effort, two-night Torch Light Ski Parade, to be held at each slope. Ski Patrol Director of Canaan Valley Stan White stated they used to have torchlight parades annually, though haven’t had one in the past four or five years.
For those unaware of how this proceeding works, road flares are taped to the top of ski poles and are lit at the top, then each participant snakes down the center of the slopes. “It’s really exciting to be a part of,” proclaimed Perfect, “It’s a very unique type of event to take place at ski areas.” For the Friday night parade, Max Withrow, the Terrain Park Manger of Timberline lead the line of skiers that included the Timberline and Canaan Valley staff. Saturday’s event at Canaan Valley was led by their very own ski patrollers, ski school instructors, and their families followed by Timberline staff. Each night the parade consisted of approximately 35 to 40 skiers with several spectators safely positioned to watch the torches slither down the side of the mountains.
White was concerned that the Saturday night event was going to have to be canceled due to the thick fog that settled in over the slopes. “You could barely see the mountain,” he added. Up until 6 p.m., with kick off scheduled for just an hour later, it was questionable as to whether Canaan would have to cancel the parade to ensure everyones safety. “All of a sudden, the fog lifted and you could see the top of the mountain,” White said.
“We really wanted to highlight that we’ve had an excellent, phenomenal season, and it’s still going strong,” continued Perfect. “It was just a great event to bring everyone together,” she concluded. White agreed, stating, “It was a good show.”