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Gogebic Range rings in 2020


January 2, 2020

Tom LaVenture/Daily Globe

Skiers taking part in a New Year's Eve torchlight parade come down a slope making an "S" shape at Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort.


Ironwood Township - The fireworks were vivid under star-filled skies and snow covered ski hills and the sounds crackled sharply in the cold air to give crowds of patrons and community a memorial New Year's Eve celebration.

It was convenient for people wanting to see more than one display. The torchlight parade and fireworks got underway just before 8 p.m. at Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort. That left enough time to drive over to enjoy another torchlight parade and fireworks display at Blackjack Mountain starting at 10 p.m.

"This is the 60th birthday of Indianhead Mountain," said a staffer on the phone Tuesday. "It's a special one this year."

The torchlight parade at Blackjack and Powderhorn included resort staff and advanced skiers. There is no lighting on the hill except for a spotlight placed on the top to help the skiers see the contours of the snow.

The skiers hold flares that gave the dazzling contrast of red against the white snow.

"You just follow the guy in front of you," said Scott Leipzig, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, who was a skier in the torchlight parade at Big Powderhorn Mountain, along with relative Dennis Leipzig of Minneapolis.

"We have a cabin up here and we always manage to wind up here for the fireworks because it's pretty awesome with the white," Scott Leipzig said. "Usually, you are used to the Fourth of July with everything up there, but now because of the mountain being white the fireworks reflect off of that and it's just great."

Dennis Leipzig had a GoPro camera on top of his helmet to capture the torchlight parade experience from the skier's perspective.

"It's just fun," he said. "There are good colors and it is about giving people something to look at."

Watching at the bottom of the hill in full New Year's regalia was Nancy Leipzig, who is Scott's wife. The family vacations at an area cabin for the holidays and hasn't missed a New Year's Eve at the ski hills going on 20 years.

"This is a tradition for us to come here for the New Year's Eve, for the fireworks, the festivities and the crowds," Nancy Leipzig said. "The torchlight is always a lot of fun, whether you are participating in it or you are watching it from the ground. The fireworks are phenomenal. There is no better place to be."

Just before the torchlight parade at Powderhorn the crowd was treated to a fire-spinning show from Amy Nosal and Nicole Lahti to the meditative sounds of guitarist Graham Baldwin, who later performed in the chalet.

Nosal spun with two hand-held torches, while Lahti spun with a four-torch Hula Hoop.

The families who come to Powderhorn appreciate the tradition, said Cathy Flory, marketing and special events coordinator at Powderhorn. Some families have been coming here for more than 50 years and part of what keeps the tradition alive is wanting to share that experience with successive generations, she said.

"There is a lot of tradition in the New Year's events," Flory said. "It really means a lot."


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