Torchlight Parade sheds light on tradition
December 20, 2011
For 48 years, Park City has ushered in Christmas Eve with the annual Torchlight Parade at Park City Mountain Resort.
To see more than 100 skiers and snowboarders holding flares winding down the mountain is an awe-inspiring sight, said Meisha Lawson, senior marketing manager of Park City Mountain Resort.
"It’s our ski and snowboard school instructors who actually create the parade," Lawson said during an interview with The Park Record. "They ski down Payday run and it is a spectacular experience to see them all snaking down the run. They ski in a very controlled slow manner so everyone who looks up the mountain can see the glow of the flames."
Park City Mountain Resort will host the 48th annual Torchlight Parade on Saturday, Dec. 24. The parade is scheduled to begin about 6 p.m., snow or shine.
"There was a huge snowstorm my first year here five years ago, but that made the parade all the more magical," Lawson said.
Part of the magic comes from the enthusiasm of the participants.
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"The instructors who do it have a great time, because some of the instructors are here from out of town and they don’t go home for the holidays, so it has become their holiday tradition as well," Lawson said. "It’s also a time when they can let loose and have a good time."
Some of the skiers and snowboarders dress up in crazy outfits.
"We’ve seen everything from the classic ’80s ski attire, to Winnie-the-Pooh costumes and several Santa costumes," she said. "All the costumes have been always been memorable and outrageous. I think that’s why the instructors like participating so much. They get to showcase their personalities."
The only challenge of the evening is to make sure the "fake" Santas behave themselves.
"We do have to have all the (fake) Santas hang out in the back so they don’t steal the show from the (real) Santa," Lawson said.
At the bottom of the run, the participants form two parallel lines that form a pathway where the official Santa Claus can make his grand entrance.
"After he’s out of his bindings, all the kids can come see him and he gives out candy canes," Lawson said. "I think the hardest part of it all is to allow the excitement to take over, but also keep the crowd back for a moment when Santa comes down during the parade. Everyone gets so excited when they see him, but before he is able to visit with the kids and hand out the candy canes, he has to click out of his skis."
The annual Torchlight Parade isn’t the only time where people can catch a glimpse of the Jolly One at the resort. He can also be seen skiing the runs during the day.
"He usually gets out there around 11 a.m. and goes around and visits with our ski and snowboard school around 3 p.m.," Lawson explained. "It’s a sight to see him hitting the slopes and it’s fun to see our guests on the lifts see him skiing the powder below."
The parade not only gives children and families a chance to visit with Santa, it also sets the tone for night skiing at the resort, which starts on Christmas night, Lawson said.
"These are very cool traditions in Park City," she said. "They’re not only enjoyable for the ski and snowboard instructors who perform, but also for our guests and locals who have made it a part of their own holiday celebrations."
Park City Mountain Resort will host the 48th annual Torchlight Parade on Saturday, Dec. 24. The parade is scheduled to begin about 6 p.m. Free hot chocolate and cookies will be available at 5:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the PCMR resort plaza.