Hill celebrates a half century

By Geoff Lee

February 18, 2016 1:41 PM

Mount Joy Snow Resort will celebrate its 50th anniversary this Sunday with a fresh coat of natural and man made snow on the slopes for a party of up to 200 guests.
It will be all hands on deck for the resort board of directors, volunteers, sponsors and supporters for the official ceremonial kickoff at noon Feb. 21 followed by anniversary cake.
“At noon we will make note of the people who had the vision to develop that hill in 1966, ” said resort president Ray Tatro.
“We will thank the landowners and some of the other people who have been instrumental.”
The landowners are Walter and Gene Harbin who recently agreed to a new 15 year lease with three five-year terms.
Tatro said 50 years of ski operations is quite an achievement worth celebrating.
“A lot of people who read this story can’t imagine where they were 50 years ago,” he said.
Tatro said Harbin’s son Cliff told him last weekend that he remembers when Dr. Skene and Dr. Smith and a nurse whose name he couldn’t recall spoke to his parents about the potential for a ski hill on their land.
“It’s had a great history, the people in the area supported it,” said Tatro.
“It’s a real good hill in that it gives you a wide variety of runs.”
Synergy Credit Union CEO Glenn Stang will be on hand to officially unveil their sponsored trail map during the ceremony.
Synergy has donated $10,000 toward the cost of extending water lines to the top of the hill for full snow making coverage as early as next season.
“By next year, we hope to have snow to the top so we can be open all the winter season with man made snow at the top if Mother Nature isn’t going to contribute,” said Tatro.
There will be plenty of snow on the lower slopes for sure this weekend for an anniversary big air and rail jam snowboard competition at 2 p.m.
At 3 p.m. media teams will go head to head in a downhill cardboard box derby.
The party mood will be jacked up by three live bands headlined by Artificial Lift.
“We’ve got the barbecue going all afternoon,” added Tatro.
“We’ll have marshmallows and what not for the children – face painting.”
A tug of war will close out the festivities along with a word of thanks from Tatro to all the people who turn up.
“The weather’s supposed to be great,” said Tatro.
He said they’ll be making snow all week to guarantee good coverage at the bottom end of the hill.
“We’ve had really good snow conditions at the bottom of the hill all year,” he said.
The entire hill has been open four full days this year with a freeze thaw cycle and wind making it icy at the top.
An announcement on provincial funding for snow making expansion is expected by May, but Tatro thinks they can still make the water line happen with the resources they have.
“We need the install on that hill,” he said.
“If you don’t have snow all you have is a brown hill — you don’t have a ski hill.”
Snow making all season long from the top to the bottom leads the vision of the resort heading into its next 50 years.
“It can only go forward; the need is there,” he said.
“People want to get fresh air and recreation,  particularly if it’s not 30 below.”
Tatro said the resort has been happy with the attendance so far this year with warmer than usual weather helping out.
“We wished we could have had the top of the hill open all year,” he added.
He noted the limitation has curtailed some of the youth who find it a little monotonous just having access to the lower part of the hill.
“It’s great for developing skills, but it’s not the variety and change people need to see in different runs,” he said.

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