Santas shred the slopes for a good cause

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NEWRY — The bells were jingling and the ho-ho-ho’s were jolly at the 18th annual Santa Sunday at Sunday River this weekend. The event raised more than $2,500 for the Sunday River Community Fund.

“Whenever you can combine giving and a great time, you should do it,” skier Mark Hitchko of Portsmouth, N.H., said.

Participants were required to preregister a week before the event, and donate a minimum of $15 to the fund. All 250 slots filled up within 10 minutes.

The Santa must then be decked out in full attire, including a hat, beard, coat, belt and pants, for their day of shredding the slopes.

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On Sunday, 160 Santas showed up at the South Ridge Lodge to ski down the mountain in one group.

“We’re trying to count the Santas, but there’s too many to count,” said Courtney Marchetti of Hebron, who watched the skiing Santas with her son, Oliver, 4.

For the Wyman family of Clifton, it’s been a family tradition for 15 years.

“It’s for a really good cause, and we don’t even look to see where the donations are going, said Karma Wyman of Clifton, who skied with her husband, Gene, and their daughter, Liz, of Bangor, and her friend, Amanda Turcotte of Bangor. “We just sign up.” 

According to Katie Durgin of Manchester, N.H, who has been participating in Santa Sunday since 2011, the run down the mountain is “terrifying, but worth it.”

“You’re trying to avoid small children and people are falling in front of you … it’s kind of like an obstacle course,” she said. “Dodge the Santas!”

It’s the dodging and weaving that Charlie Thibault of Haverhill, Mass., loves most.

“It’s a blast – just a swarm of red and white,” he said.

While some were there for the fun, and others for a good cause, Avery Oundgren, 8, of Brunswick was on a mission and dressed for the occasion in a red velvet dress trimmed with white fur.

“She loves Santa, she’s always dressing up as Santa,” Oundgren’s father, Bryan, said. “She’s even dressed up as Santa for Halloween a couple times. This year, she said she’s going to find the real one on the slopes.”

After a photo with all 160 Santas and Eddy the Yeti, the mountain’s mascot, the Santas piled onto the chairlifts, and the poms poms on their hats flew up in an arch as the lifts full of Saint Nicks soared into the air.

It didn’t matter that grass was still visible in strips throughout the mountain peaks. The spirit of Christmas was contagious, with carols playing while the Santas flew down the mountain. Most were smiling, some were snapping pictures or recording video as they went, raising their poles in triumph as they reached the bottom.

The Sunday River Community Fund supports local charities. This year, according to Caroline Ochtera, events manager for Sunday River, the $2,500 will go to Toys for Tots.

In addition to giving back to a good cause, participants received a free lift ticket to use for the morning, and another to use anytime before Dec.15.

emarquis@sunmediagroup.net

A snowboarder dressed as Santa Claus rides down a slope at Sunday River during the ski resort’s 18th annual Santa Sunday event, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Newry. In the name of charity, 160 skiing and snowboarding Santas raised $2,500 for the Sunday River Community Fund, a fund that benefits non-profits in area communities. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

A skier dressed as Santa Claus uses festive canes for ski poles while skiing at Sunday River during the ski resort’s 18th annual Santa Sunday event, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Newry, Maine. In the name of charity, 160 skiing and snowboarding Santas raised $2,500 for the Sunday River Community Fund, a fund that benefits non-profits in area communities. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Skiers and a snowboarder dressed Santa Claus ride the chairlift at Sunday River during the ski resort’s 18th annual Santa Sunday event, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Newry. In the name of charity, 160 skiing and snowboarding Santas raised $2,500 for the Sunday River Community Fund, a fund that benefits non-profits in area communities. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

A snowboarder dressed as Santa Claus rides down a slope at Sunday River during the ski resort’s 18th annual Santa Sunday event, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Newry. In the name of charity, 160 skiing and snowboarding Santas raised $2,500 for the Sunday River Community Fund, a fund that benefits non-profits in area communities. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

A snowboarder, right, gets a jump start as 160 Santas head down a slope at Sunday River during the ski resort’s 18th annual Santa Sunday event, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Newry. The Santas raised $2,500 for the Sunday River Community Fund, a fund that benefits non-profits in area communities. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

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