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Bavarian Night promises snowy, explosive spectacle

If you want to ski Mount Ashland under the lights on a Saturday night, your only chance this winter comes this weekend.

Ski area managers will keep the chairs running Saturday as part of the mountain's annual Bavarian Night celebration. There will be live music in the lodge, German sausages and other foods with a German flair, a torchlight parade of skiers and snowboarders and a fireworks display that organizers say will rival local Fourth of July pyrotechnic shows.

"It's really spectacular in the snow," said Butch Merusi, a ski patrol member who's putting together this year's celebration.

Merusi said the fireworks are provided by Sure Shot Blasting and Fireworks, a Bend company that supplies the explosives the ski patrol uses for avalanche control work. "We always try to get sponsors so we can get as much money as we can for fireworks," he said. "But he always gives us more than what we pay for — a lot more."

Skiing could be exceptional, too. As of Wednesday, forecasters were calling for cold temperatures through the weekend, and fresh snow today, Friday and through the weekend — a perfect follow-up on the storm that left 11 inches of dry powder on the mountain last Sunday night. Daytime temperatures were expected to stay below freezing through the weekend, and evening lows will likely stay in the teens and low 20s.

Bavarian Night began early in Mount Ashland's history as a way to raise money for the ski patrol — the men and women who provide emergency response on the ski trails. The earliest surviving Bavarian memorabilia dates to 1976, when the event was already in its 11th year.

Money from this year's party will be used for training. Ski patrol members attend regular training sessions to keep their skills sharp and learn the latest developments in rescue techniques.

Merusi said the torchlight parade will be a two-part event this year. Skiers will start from the lift shack at the top of the Windsor chairlift and glide slowly down the Romeo ski trail carrying glowing flares, followed by snowboarders descending from the top of the Comer chairlift.

Lift tickets for the evening session will cost $23 for adults and $17 for kids age 7 to 17. Dancing and music will begin in the lodge at 5 p.m. Chairlifts will close around 8:30 in preparation for the fireworks and parade. There also will be a raffle for prizes. The fireworks will begin immediately after the parade. The bar will remain open until around 10:30 p.m.

Rick Saul, the ski area's marketing director, stressed the celebration is family oriented. For more information, see the ski area Web site at www.mtashland.com.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com.