Firsthand Report: Pre-Christmas Bonfire and Winterfest at Whitetail
Author thumbnail By Connie Lawn, DCSki Columnist

Whitetail ushered in the first day of winter with a glorious event! Their Winterfest was filled with good skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing, and lots of Christmas fun. Christmas carols were piped out to the slopes. Guests received unlimited free hot chocolate and popcorn. Little children built displays of snowmen and slid down the hills. The one that caught my eye was a snowman dressed in a mountain host jacket. A sign was posted near him which read, “A mountain host never stands so tall as when they kneel to help a child.”

Snowman competition at Whitetail. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

As the sun went down, the lights came on on the ski slopes, illuminating the snow and enhancing visibility in the somewhat grey light. Flames then sprang up from the flat area near the ski lifts. A handsome log cabin, filled with wood, was torched by the staff of the mountain operations who built it. The bonfire was a tribute to the coming winter and the Christmas season. Hundreds of people stood around and watched the cabin burn, while others continued their adventures on the slopes, under the lights.

Winterfest bonfire. Photo provided by Charles Sneiderman.

10 of 19 trails were open, and all were groomed. The expert runs on the back side were not yet ready for sport, but there is some snow on Exhibition. Of the intermediates, Angel Drop, Limelight, Homerun, and Stalker were open and well utilized but not crowded. The snow got heavy as the day progressed, and provided a real work out. The Terrain Park, Jib Junction, and Park Place were in full swing, and the more adventuresome younger set were having a great time. All the beginner trails were open, and I found them to be the most satisfying as the day grew warmer. I could dance down all five of them, and regain the style I had lost in the heavier snow of the intermediate trails.

I am certain it was more fun spending the pre Christmas season at Whitetail than it was fighting the crowds in the malls. But we could not escape the Christmas rush. Interstate 270 was slow and jammed driving to Whitetail; perhaps a lot of the drivers were looking for bargains in the Frederick shopping malls. The biggest crush was the merge from 270 to 70. The traffic added about an hour to the trip, which usually takes no more than an hour and a half from the Washington Metro area.

Once there, it was great to see old friends at Whitetail. General manager Don MacAskill was rushing around, making certain all went smoothly. We even saw him carry out two huge bags of trash.

One person we are always thrilled to see is Buddy Hauk, the Mountain Host Supervisor. He can always be spotted wearing his big black cowboy hat, and sporting a large smile. Buddy and his team have recently won an award for the Best Overall Guest Services Program for resorts with 100,000 to 250,000 skier visits. The award was given by the National Ski Areas Association, based in Colorado.

“We view all who visit Whitetail as our personal guests. All who work as a Mountain Host consider themselves responsible and accountable to each guest,” says Hauk. It is a good philosophy, and is evident throughout Whitetail. Now, if we can only make certain nature continues to cooperate!

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About Connie Lawn

When she wasn't skiing, Connie Lawn covered the White House as a reporter since 1968.

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