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Okemo's Annual Torchlight Parade set

LUDLOW - Okemo Mountain resort in Ludlow will hold its' annual Torchlight Parade, Fireworks Display and Guided Snowshoe Tour on Sunday, Dec. 26, with the torchlight beginning at 6 p.m. and fireworks after 7 p.m.

Torchlight parades are a tradition as old as skiing itself. The Birkebeiners probably carried torches as they skied over the mountains. Norwegian history credits the Birkebeiners' bravery with preserving the life of the boy who later became King Haakon Haakonsson IV, ended the civil wars in 1240 and forever changed Northern Europe's history through his reign.

Watch the torchlight parade consisting of Okemo employees, who ski and snowboard down the mountain creating a spectacular display. "We've been doing torchlight parades at Okemo for as long as anyone can remember," Okemo Public Relations Direcotr Bonnie McPhearson said in a recent interview. "No one remembers why or how it started, we are just happy to keep up the tradition ."

Okemo will also offer free guided snowshoe tours leading up to Okemo's gala fireworks display. It's a great reason to get outdoors and stand shoulder to shoulder with your neighbors as a ribbon of light finds its way down the slope. It's quite a spectacle and well worth the effort. The Sitting Bull also offers refuge from the cold and the spirits to keep the socializing going long after the torches are extinguished.

"There's a great connection to skiing tradition associated with torchlight parades," McPhearson added. "There is a wonderful revelry for the participants that is contagious for spectators. The winter nights are long and we need to make the most of living in a northern climate where skiing and snow sports are such an important part of our culture."

For the snowshoe tour, participants meet inside the Okemo Express Rental Shop (located at main base) at 6 p.m. to be fitted for snowshoes. Tours will depart the Okemo base area beside South Ridge Quad A at 7 p.m. and head up on the Bull Run rail to watch the fireworks. For more information call 228-4041 or visit their Web site at www.okemo.com.

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