As I write this column, the temperature outside has hit 60 degrees, even as the calendar reads “First Day of Winter.” But as any lifelong resident of Pennsylvania knows, there is plenty more cold and snow around the corner. Any lifelong resident of Pennsylvania also knows that if you don’t find a way to embrace the weather, winter can be long and miserable.
Fortunately, we have a lot of fun, local opportunities to embrace the snow, and to teach our kids to do the same.
Friends of Black Moshannon will be hosting their annual Winter Festival, “Fun in the Snow at Black Mo” on Jan. 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. Here you can try your hand at some out-of-the-ordinary winter activities, including ice bowling, ice mini-golf, broom ball and that ever-popular Olympic sport, curling. Snowshoes and ice skates will be available to borrow, and there will be opportunities to sled and try cross-country skiing as well. In the event of no snow, the festival will be moved to Jan. 18. Call 342-5960 for more information.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding are obvious fun choices for people of all ages to have fun in the snow, although learning to do both can be expensive. To make the cost more manageable, the Pennsylvania Ski Area Association offers a “Snowpass” every winter that allows fourth- and fifth-graders to ski for free at all 21 of its member resorts. This passport costs $30 upon registration, but it includes a free lesson package (including lift ticket, instruction and rental) and three free lift tickets for every participating resort. It also includes a 50-percent discount on a first-time learn-to-ski lesson package for parents. For more information, visit skipa.com.
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Locally, Tussey Mountain is a participating member of this program. They also offer many learn-to-ski or -ride packages for people of all ages and abilities, starting at age 3. Programs include Family Fridays and Pre-School Saturdays, one-hour lesson packages every day, a beginner special every Sunday, and a competitive program for ages 8-19, Tussey Mountain Racing Team, that participates in local and regional USSA races.
My kids learned to ski through Tussey’s After School Intramural Ski Program, offered to local elementary, middle school and high school-aged youth in January and February.
For non-skiers who still want to enjoy the snow, Tussey Mountain’s tubing park, Avalanche Cavern, is open when weather permits on weekdays from 4 to 10 p.m, on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets range from $20 to $25, with $15 specials on Tuesdays. Group rates and private tubing parties are available. Visit tusseymountain.com for information about all of their programs.
Finally, we are fortunate to have a great sledding hill in College Township, at Slab Cabin Park. It’s free, it’s easy and the slope is open as weather permits, during the daylight and under the lights from 5 to 11 p.m. There is even a fire ring to get warm around when your hands start to freeze! Access Slab Cabin Park from Elmwood Street.