WEST DOVER -- It was sunny and crowded on what usually is the bunny hill at Mount Snow on Saturday afternoon.
Instead of beginners learning how to ski or snowboard, the area contained a "pre-season rail garden."
"The goal is to get people excited for the season -- dust off their skis or boards and get them out on the hill," said Mount Snow Communications Manager Dave Meeker. "Knowing how many people like to get on snow for the first time of the season, we figured we'd have an even bigger turn-out for the fundraising effort."
Skiers and snowboarders hit the slope for $10 lift tickets. Proceeds went to victims of Superstorm Sandy.
The tickets gave visitors access to over five rails and at least two jumps. The event was held for three days, Friday through Sunday.
Some people on the designated area called Launch Pad were out in T-shirts. Others were taking pictures or video of their friends and family doing tricks on the terrain.
"This is the fourth season we've had a rail garden in the beginning of the season," said Meeker.
The first two years were free events, but had no lift services. This year and last year, Mount Snow decided to run a lift and raise money for storm victims.
Last year, proceeds went to North Star Bowling in Wilmington, which was destroyed in Irene. This year, the mountain decided to spin the lift again to help raise money for Superstorm Sandy victims from out-of-state, who may or may not be second-home owners in the area, but had supported Vermont last year.
"They helped us recover from Irene, so this was something to return the favor," Meeker said.
Just over $8,000 was collected for the event. A total of 802 people were on the mountain, according to Meeker.
Every range of ability could be seen on display. Some skiers and snowboarders were seen doing flips and 360 degree spins.
Season pass holders could ride the terrain park without paying the $10 but were encouraged to buy food and beverages at a stand below the chair lift. Some season pass holders even donated money at the ticket window.
Snow makers were told to stop the snow guns on the mountain after hearing the weather report for the weekend and the forecast for the beginning of this week. Unlike other mountains in this region, Mount Snow is going to wait until the temperature drops to continue its snowmaking.
"It was definitely a tough decision," Meeker said. "We will put the pedal to the metal once we get a good window of opportunity for snowmaking."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org.