Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Sun Valley lights up for Christmas

Warm Springs sleigh rides move to mid-valley


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Warmth, mirth and merriment will reign in Sun Valley this Christmas season, as the ski resort indulges the public in grand style for the 69th year.

"Christmas Eve in Sun Valley is huge," said Ellen Gillespie, public relations coordinator for the Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors' Bureau. "There's an ice show, they do fireworks, and it's all free and open to everybody."

Snow sculptures and carvings, light displays and decorations create a festive atmosphere for visitors.

"There are a lot of things that make it special," said Jack Sibbach, director of sales and marketing for Sun Valley Resort. "Besides the lights and the activities, there's the tradition. We've had people coming here for 50 years, staying in the same room. Their grandchildren are staying in the room next to them. They feel comfortable here."

Newcomers, too, will enjoy the offerings, he said.

"There's the pageantry of it, the magical feel of Sun Valley," Sibbach said. "It's a good time to be here."

Sun Valley Resort staff members have been preparing for more than a month for an explosion of activity that culminates Dec. 24.

Festivities begin Christmas Eve at 5 p.m. on the terrace of the Sun Valley Lodge. Traditionally dressed carolers will set the musical mood as they stroll through the crowd.

At approximately 5:40 p.m., the "Christmas on Ice" exhibition launches. Santa Claus will join local skaters in the 20-minute show.

Spectators can view the show from the bleachers rink-side or from the lodge's terrace. Free hot cocoa, cider and cookies will be available.

At 6 p.m. members of the Sun Valley Ski School will lead a torchlight parade down the snowy slopes of Bald Mountain. Fireworks punctuate the evening.

Celebrations in Sun Valley continue for New Year's Eve, when the Sun Valley Inn plays host to parties for young and old.

Doors open at 7:45 p.m. for the main event at the Limelight Room with dinner, dancing and champagne. Other parties are planned on site for children and teens.

For a more raucous evening, the Sun Valley Suns hockey team will mix it up with the McCall Mountaineers on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 at the Sun Valley Ice Rink, beginning at 7 p.m.

Throughout the holiday season, Sun Valley Co. offers sleigh rides to Trail Creek Cabin, where dinner is served.

Lawrence Kimball and Darla Tanner previously operated sleigh rides on the Warm Springs Ranch property in northwest Ketchum, but this year they're planning to move their operation to the mid-valley.

Kimball has negotiated land rental from the state and is renting bathrooms and power from the Valley Club, on Buttercup Road north of Hailey.

Once the paperwork is finalized, the 35- to 45-minute sleigh rides will be offered daily, Kimball said.

Sleigh ride reservations can be made by calling (208) 823-4381.

For more information on Sun Valley events, call Sun Valley Resort at 622-4111 or the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber at 726-3423.




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