Stella Buchheister joins Mayor Dana Williams and Park City Mountain Resort President and General Manager Jenni Smith as the resort celebrated its 50th
Stella Buchheister joins Mayor Dana Williams and Park City Mountain Resort President and General Manager Jenni Smith as the resort celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the PayDay lift. Christopher Reeves/Park Record

Happy birthday, Park City Mountain Resort.

The resort that essentially brought Park City into the skiing era at a time when the community faced an uncertain future as the silver mining industry waned celebrated its 50th anniversary on Saturday.

A brief event, held in the morning as the resort was opening, drew a medium-sized crowd of PCMR staffers, ski-industry figures and Mayor Dana Williams. Jack Thomas, who will succeed Williams in the mayor's office in January, was also there.

A ribbon was cut at the PayDay lift. Some passersby appeared to stop to watch when they saw the balloons and heard people speaking through a public-address system. Later on Saturday, the anniversary was marked with a concert and fireworks.

The Saturday event was held precisely 50 years after what became PCMR opened in 1963, less than a month after the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The Kennedy administration provided financial assistance for the resort's creation.

"Park City holds a special place in my heart," said Nathan Rafferty, the president of the industry group Ski Utah.

He described fond memories of PCMR, saying that he worked his first paid job in the ski industry at the resort. He met his wife at PCMR and his three children took their first ski runs there, Rafferty said.

"I think in many ways, Park City Mountain Resort is the oldest sibling in our town here in Park City, and it's an incredible responsibility," he said.


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"And I think the leadership behind me, and the leadership that had come before them, has done a great job with this resort. And here's to 50 more."

The mayor, speaking during what will likely be one of his last public appearances before his retirement in early January, said he is pleased ties forged between City Hall and the resort during his 12 years in office. He said Saturday was a day to celebrate for PCMR.

"As a city we are certainly proud of watching the evolution of this resort and its relationship with the city. For a long time this was the big business that was in Park City," Williams said.

He mentioned that former Sen. Bob Bennett speaks with affection about PCMR, noting that Bennett's father, who also was a senator from Utah, helped secure the assistance from the Kennedy administration.

The president and general manager of PCMR, Jenni Smith, thanked the employees of the resort in her comments. She said she was proud to "follow in the footsteps" of past resort leaders like Phil Jones, Vern Greco and Peter Curtis. She also noted John Cumming, the CEO of PCMR parent Powdr Corp. Smith said PCMR guests are the resort's priority.

"I think that this is our anniversary present, the snow that's coming, the snow that we received in the last couple of days," she said. "So I want to say happy anniversary to all of us."