By Jim Stanford on January 3, 2011
A small but spirited band of skiers took to the slopes of Snow King on Friday to keep alive the New Year’s Eve torchlight tradition.
The procession was just long enough to fill the length of the Summit chairlift. Once on the Elk run, revelers bearing red flares fanned out into two lines and descended in a snaking double-helix.
The temperature was about 2 or 3 degrees. Participation was down this year due to a combination of factors: the cold, the fact that many regulars participated in the Jimmy Zell memorial torchlight the week before, and the uncertain status of the ski area and Snow King Resort.
Still, it was a euphoric end to 2010 and festive way to charge into the new year. “I feel complete as a skier,” said one friend who participated for the first time.
Props to Jack Bellorado, Rick Hunt and Howard Henderson for stepping up to organize the event in the absence of Jim Sullivan, who was unceremoniously dumped by the resort this fall after 36 years on the King. The parade was dedicated to Sullivan, who was unable to attend because of his new job managing the White Pine community ski area near Pinedale.
Before skiers hit the slopes, Bellorado gave a rousing speech in which he proclaimed the Snow King parade the longest running in North America. And no matter where participants go in life, Bellorado bellowed, they can always count on a torchlight on the King on New Year’s Eve — “even if we have to hike!”