Thursday, January 4, 2018

The Alyeska NYE Torchlight Parade

I've celebrated New Year's Eve throughout my lifetime in a very "standard" fashion. No matter where I am, it usually consists of either a ton of firecrackers or some fireworks, plenty of food, and great company.

Celebrating New Year's Eve at Alyeska, I expected something similar to the above, give or take a few... But not a burning mountain!?

The Torchlight Parade which is an Alyeska Resort Tradition, consists of volunteer skiers and snowboarders in a procession down the slope creating a stunning visual effect! What makes it prettier is that they have a fireworks display right after.

Most of the participants of the parade are Alyeska employees. In essence, I could have participated -- but you have to be an *expert* skier or snowboarder to do so, and I'm no where near that level - yet. You have to have an incredible ability to control your movements down the slope, specifically because all the torches are real! As in REAL FIRE!

Well... Flares, actually.

I remember seeing the ski patrol coming down the mountain with a girl in tow in a sled and a blanket... With paramedics waiting for her at the bottom. My exact words were - "Yep. That would have been me."

It was snowing pretty heavily that night too, so the conditions weren't too ideal. The danger factor made the whole event a lot more impressive! As a Game of Thrones fan, it also dawned on me that I was having a real Ice and Fire moment!

Since I had never heard of the Torchlight parade before, I thought it was an exclusive Alyeska tradition... but after doing a little digging, I realized that these parades are quite common among Ski Resorts around the US and Canada.

Take a look at some of these photos.

Silver Star Mountain, Photo by Josh Latham

Alyeska Resort by Tim Grams

Winter Park Resort (From their website)

Alyeska Resort by Eric Teela

Taos Ski Resort (

I had a little difficulty finding anything regarding the history of this unusual parade. I've asked some of the locals here, and all they could say was - "They've always done it".

The closest thing to "historical" I could find was this little article about Granilbakken.

Granilbakken is a ski resort in Lake Tahoe, CA. In 1932, it was the host to the Olympic Ski Jumping trials, and the athletes allegedly ski'd down the slopes holding their own torches on Christmas Eve. It became a yearly tradition for them since then.

I could only assume that this is where the torchlight parades of different resorts got the idea from... just changing Christmas to New Year's eve. I may be wrong... Perhaps it originated from somewhere in Europe? Switzerland or Austria maybe?

Nonetheless - I think it's a pretty great tradition! And I can say with utmost confidence, that with all the snowboarding I've been doing here at the resort, I'm pretty sure I can qualify for the 2018 Torchlight Parade... Whichever Ski Resort I may end up this winter.

I still have a few months left to practice. 💪

How did YOU spend your New Year's Eve? :)

Happy New Year from me and my friends :)

*Check out my Instagram Page for some of the videos I shot of the event.