Christmas at Eaglecrest

Posted: Sunday, December 22, 2002

"Weather" or not we have a white Christmas in Juneau remains to be seen.

But despite what Mother Nature has in store for us this holiday season, the annual Christmas Eve celebration will continue at the Eaglecrest Ski Area this year.

Christmas at Eaglecrest has been a tradition dating back more than a quarter-century.

Mary Grayson, Eaglecrest's first caretaker, can trace the Eaglecrest Christmas celebration back to the ski area's beginnings.

"I think it started with the first Eaglecrest chair lift year in 1976, '77," Grayson said. "There's lots of families, lots of kids and when Santa comes down the platter pull, it looks so real."

Sarah Satre, 28, has lasting childhood memories of past celebrations.

"Probably the torchlight parade is what I like best," Satre said. "My mom wouldn't let me do it until I was 13 or 14. It's really fun and it looks cool coming down the hill."

The celebration begins at 3:30 p.m. and several family holiday activities are planned throughout the evening. Rick Trostel's Thrush Hill Music class will entertain revelers with holiday sounds, and Bethany Bereman will lead a sing-along.

The main torchlight parade begins at 5:30 p.m. The youngsters' torchlight parade, which will lead Santa Claus' arrival, begins at 6 p.m. Parents are asked to register their children for a gift with his elves at 790-2001 or 586-5284 by noon Christmas Eve. Also, prospective torch-bearers are asked to sign up by 2 p.m. at the same phone numbers.

"It just brings out the kid in all of us," said Jeffra Clough, ski school director at Eaglecrest. "The good thing about it is it begins early and ends early. It's all done by 6:30 or 7 so you can still do other things. It's also not only for skiers - we have a lot of people who don't ski who come every year."

Al Clough has led the torchlight display for the past several years and lack of snow has been an issue more than once. However, this year's torchlight procession will take place no matter what the conditions are.

Two seasons ago, when the snowfall was similar to this year, Clough was still able to pull off the event and participants were limited to skilled skiers.

"Right now snow is problematic," he said. "The best case is that we have enough snow and we run the torchlight like normal. I'm still optimistic. Safety is an issue; we don't want anyone getting hurt on Christmas Eve."

Jeff Kasper is a freelance writer and former Empire sports writer. He can be reached at 463-4645.

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