Winter Park’s Torchlight Parade and Fireworks starts at 5:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve. For Torchlight, Santa skis in on the Lower Hughes Trail.
At Arapahoe Basin, the Christmas Eve festivities begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and include caroling from the Summit County Choral Society. But Santa will have to leave A-Basin promptly at 1 p.m., says spokeswoman Leigh Heirholzer. (He has a lot of presents to deliver.)
This December, much like Decembers past, Santa Claus has been spotted shredding, schussing and generally having a jolly old time on Colorado’s slopes.
Ho ho snow.
Claus did not respond to repeated letters to the North Pole requesting an interview. But ski resorts across the state report seeing him on the slopes this time of year — on both skis and a snowboard.
Eldora spokesman Rob Linde said that Claus is often seen on Eldora’s slopes on Christmas day. Leigh Hierholzer, spokeswoman for Arapahoe Basin, said he usually skis there at mid-day on Christmas Eve.
“He’s pretty mellow” as a skier, Hierholzer said. “He likes to hang out and talk to the kids. He’s more into one-on-one personal connection than he is into just going crazy on the snow.”
Mistalynn Lee, of Winter Park Resort, said she’s seen him at Winter Park several times this December. He doesn’t usually ski bumps at Mary Jane, she said, but she’s seen him both ski and snowboard Winter Park, and he’s pretty good at both.
“I’ve seen him go off of jumps — he’s very talented,” Lee said of Claus.
Though the Grinch has been spotted on the slopes at some resorts, like Crested Butte, Hierholzer said fortunately, he doesn’t ski or ride A-Basin.
“No,” she said, “this is a Grinch-free zone.”
Claus usually brings an elf to A-Basin, though, and it’s a different elf every year, she said.
Lee said Claus sometimes brings elves to Winter Park, too, and that Mrs. Claus will occasionally come along and read stories to kids — but she tends to stick to the base area.
“She likes the Village,” Lee said. “That’s where Starbucks and the shopping is.”
Claus himself usually sticks to the slopes, skiing or riding the family-friendly terrain, she said, and talking with the kids along the way.
She speculated that he might be checking in to see whether the kids are naughty or nice in the ski and ride school classes, too.
Lee said she’s talked to him on his visits to Winter Park before, and she thinks he’s coming out to ski or ride just for a break from the business of the season.
“Maybe it’s just an hour at a time, but we all need a ski or snowboard break.”