2014 started on a sunny high note for Sun Valley holiday-makers ringing in the new on Dollar Mountain. Slopes were filled with smiling faces on the first days of the New Year and family fun was the name of the game.
The Swanson and Gabbert families of Seattle enjoyed an afternoon on Dollar's Tubing Hill
At the end of an exhilarating ride, the girls are ready for more
The Swanson family, visiting for the holidays from Seattle, came out for an afternoon of tubing with their three daughters and friends. As guests at the Resort, their condo was a short walk from Dollar’s slopes and they strolled over to enjoy the tubing course.
“It was a great way to spend the afternoon,” said mom Mari Swanson. “The kids had a terrific time and it was a nice break from skiing, but still a great way to be outside.”
The feeling on Dollar at New Year's? Woo hoo!
I spent part of the beginning of the New Year on Dollar, as well, making my first tentative turns following knee surgery last spring. Accompanied by my patient 8-year-old and a patient friend, I tried out my repaired leg on the gentle slopes of Quarter Dollar before progressing all the way to Dollar Face by the day’s end. While my technique and style might be slow to come back, the joy of being on the snow and on skis with Sun Valley at my feet, returned immediately.
My son and friend made sure to try out Prospector Park (thumbs up), a few park features and the Cross Course. We enjoyed an al fresco lunch on the fabulous Carol’s Dollar Mountain Lodge patio where great food is accompanied by a big show and it seems the sun is always shining. Even when you live here, there is no better way to feel like you’re on vacation than lunch on the patio.
Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge is HQ for great food, lift and tubing tickets and even super post holiday shopping for gear
They say the way you spend January 1 sets the tone for the year to follow. Hopefully, the months to come will be as enjoyable, laughter-filled and memory-making for those who spent New Year’s Day on Dollar as that beautiful day last Wednesday.
Wishing you all peace, joy and lots of fun in the snow in 2014!
On New Year's Eve, the action for the young, and the young at heart, will be at the Inn
As the old adage aptly states: happy children, happy parents. And what could make children happier than a New Year’s Eve celebration tailored especially to their interests and tastes? On Monday, December 31, the Continental Room at the Sun Valley Inn will be transformed into a giant playground at which kids can count down to the New Year. Pizza, chicken fingers, popcorn and ice cream sundaes will abound and dozens of age-appropriate activities will keep little partygoers busy and happy while mom and dad sneak out for a party of their own or stay to partake in the fun.
Kids have unspent energy? Let them work it out playing a hilarious game of Bungee Basketball. Participants are attached to a long bungee cord by a belt as they try to run down an inflatable court to dunk a basketball before the bungee bounces them back. Do your kids love the “gotcha” of Lazer Tag? They can slide into a vest, pop goggles over their eyes, grab a lazer “gun” and take part in this always-popular game. Giant boxing gloves are available to help siblings work out some of their year-end issues before the clock strikes midnight and an old-time midway offers games of all varieties. If the kiddos need some quiet time, a movie corner surrounded by beanbag chairs provides a peaceful oasis.
The event can be described as a “carnival” according to Lana Breazeale, Director of Recreation at Sun Valley. “There is a lot going on,” she laughed. “We will have a DJ playing popular music the kids know. There are contests and drawings for prizes all night long. At midnight, we have a balloon drop, noisemakers and hats. It’s really fun. It makes the kids feel special to have a party of their own.”
It also makes families feel relieved to have such a great option for what is always a nearly impossible night to get childcare. “Many parents may not have ‘big’ plans for a party or event, but want to toast the New Year,” Lana explained. “We have seen many go to the Ram for dinner or the Inn Lounge for a glass of champagne, staying close to their children, but still getting some grown-up time.”
Enjoy dinner at the Ram or a drink at the Inn Lobby Lounge knowing the kids are happy and having fun
No matter if you’re down the hall or downtown, though, safety is of the utmost priority to Lana and her team. Children wear identifying lanyards and are even escorted to the restroom. The event is open to everyone, from Resort guests to locals, and reservations are greatly appreciated.
The fine print: the party is open from 7:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. The fun will be supervised by trained adults and you are welcome to drop off your child who is three or older. Littler party-goers must be accompanied by their own grown up (a parent or care provider). Cost is $75 per child (a great value at just over $13/hour. Try to get that anywhere else on New Year’s Eve) and reservations may be made by calling 208-622-2135.
Baby Sun with Grand Marshal Carol Knight in The Toy Store's 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade. Baby Sun loved the whole event, Little Sun (just behind her in the hat), not so much. "Mom, I'm not a girl." he complained to me.
This past Saturday in Sun Valley was the unofficial family day of the summer season. Over the past few years, two great family-friendly events have chosen to combine on this second Saturday of August, creating the perfect Saturday afternoon outing for myself and my two little ones. Thankfully, the dreadful smoke that had shrouded the valley the previous few days, caused by wildfires many miles away, was taking a much needed day off, providing the ideal afternoon for some fun in the sun.
Starting at 1:30 p.m. from outside the Sun Valley Inn, The Toy Store’s 33rd Annual Doll Buggy Parade saw a bevy of beautiful baby dolls all trussed up in their finest cowboy gear congregating for the traditional stroll down through the Sun Valley Village. The Sun family arrived a little late (as usual) and Baby Sun objected initially to being woken from her slumber. However, when she saw the cornucopia of dolls, dressed-up buggys and little girls, her delight was quite uncontrollable. When The Toy Store owner and parade Grand Marshal Carol Knight lent her her own baby doll, complete with fetching cowboy bandana, it was the icing on the proverbial cake and nothing could stop her now (not even a full orchestra and stone stairs… more on that later).
Ashley Brown of Ketchum pushes her gaily decorated buggy through the Sun Valley Mall. While the theme for this year's parade was Cowboy Bill, it was liberally interpreted. It's hard to separate a girl from her tutu!
The Doll Buggy Parade has been part of Wood River Valley life for more than three decades, moms strolling with their daughters today remembered when they were in the parade as children. Traditionally the trail of pushchairs, prams, strollers and anything with wheels that can carry a doll, winds its way from the Inn to the lawn outside the Sun Valley Pavilion, where it is greeted by the sounds of Sun Valley stalwart Tim Eriksen. Tim is a resort favorite, he has also been serenading guests, at The Roundhouse and Trail Creek Cabin, with his instrument of choice – the accordion, for many years. He told me that this gig is definitely one of his favorites. “I love playing for the children,” he said.
The much-loved accordion player Tim Eriksen delighted the parade participants with some cheerful tunes, warming them up for the fun to come...
Following the fun of the accordion, the gaggle of girls (and occasional boy) proceeded into the Sun Valley Pavilion, carefully parking their buggys alongside its outer walls, just in time for the Sun Valley Summer Symphony’s annual Family Concert. A lovely tradition, the family concert is designed to introduce youngsters to the joys of classical music, and each year this one concert is just for them. From an orchestra petting zoo to a far more relaxed atmosphere, it was the perfect first experience for Little Sun (4 and a half). He was very excited to sit in his chair inside the pavilion, “read” his program and feel like a “grown-up boy.” Granted, the highlight of the event for him was the family behind us sharing their Goldfish crackers, but I’m sure some of the experience soaked in.
Little Sun, sitting in the Pavilion, was very proud of his "program" - an instruments of the orchestra guide and coloring book.
Baby Sun takes in the sounds and experiences of the Sun Valley Symphony. But not her seat.
For Baby Sun, hopped-up on dolls and balloons, sitting still was not an option, and while the family concert is a tolerant one, after 15 minutes of me chasing her up and down the exquisite stone stairways and walkways we bailed and headed for the freedom of the lawn. But not before she had delighted at clapping along with the crowds and stomping her feet in time with the original composition Board Games, a unique percussion piece performed with metal gloves and wooden board.
Once safely on the symphony lawn, we relaxed and enjoyed the performance of Cowboy Bill. An original piece receiving its world premiere at Sun Valley, Cowboy Bill is the brilliant result of the collaboration of Boston percussionist Alex Orfaly and Sun Valley’s favorite homegrown best-selling author Ridley Pearson, who performed his poem in person at the concert. As conductor Alasdair Neale explains in this video, “It’s Peter and the Wolf meets the Wild West… it serves as an introduction to the orchestra… it highlights individual instruments and sections to introduce young people to the wonderful world of the symphony orchestra.”
And it certainly did its job well, all the way home Little Sun was asking about Cowboy Bill and Bad Bob, the story had captured his imagination – and all without the aid of a television. Amazing! Catch some snippets of the music of Cowboy Billhere.
While a weary Sun family headed home, filled to the brim with music, dolls and ice-cream, we reflected on the extraordinary (and free!) afternoon we had had. Only in Sun Valley!
Smaranda drives the Playschool attendees from activity to activity in this cute red wagon. If you see them, wave!
As any mother will know, family-vacations tailored to the under 5s are few and far between. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to sign up Little Sun (4) for some sort of activity only to discover he was born a couple years too late.
While by definition a family-vacation involves lots of family-time, as many mothers will agree it’s also essential to get some time away from the little tykes.
It turns out there’s something pretty special in Sun Valley Resort that helps out with both these things: The Sun Valley Playschool. I know, sticking the kids in daycare while I go off to have fun in the sun is not going to win me any “mother of the year” awards, but this is not just a run-of-the-mill daycare. This is a bona-fide summer camp for ages 3 months to 5 years. On the day I took Little Sun and Baby Sun (18 months) along to try it out, I was so jealous of all the fun they had that I actually tagged along with them for most of it.
Smaranda, the playschool manager, welcomed us with open arms, quickly settling us down to some arts and crafts time in the newly remodeled building, just behind the Sun Valley Post Office. Little Sun was very proud of the paper sword Smaranda helped him create, while Baby Sun and I spent a good 10 minutes playing chase-the-baby-with-the-marker-before-she-destroys-the-brand-new-walls (not a highly recommended activity).
When all the day’s participants were assembled we were given our schedule: ice-skating lessons at 10am, tennis lessons at 11:30am, lunch and nap time, followed by swimming at the Olympic pool from 2:30pm. And this was just a Tuesday. On Monday throw in a gondola ride and a picnic on top of the mountain, Wednesday it’s horses and paddle boating, Thursday golf and hiking is on the menu, and Friday take a Hay Ride out for a BBQ at Trail Creek Cabin.
While Little Sun is a budding Andy Murray, ice-skating has not featured in his skill-set so far, but he was game – positively bursting with excitement as Smaranda and her crew buckled the class into the specially modified golf-cart/wagon playschool-mobile and whisked them off to the rink.
Here’s a sampling of his newly-learned skills on ice and some styling on the tennis court from his day with the playschool:
After a morning of lessons and a well-earned nap, it was out to the Olympic swimming pool, where a newly-installed splash park provides the perfect entertainment for those not quite ready for the Olympics.
Baby Sun inspects the Splash Pool
As I buckled Little Sun and Baby Sun into their car seats at the end of the day, the heavy eyelids and broad smiles on both their faces was testament to the fun they’d had. Next time Mr. Sun and I decide a hard days mountain biking is needed, we won’t have to feel guilty about taking the tots to playschool – as they’ll probably be having more fun than we are.
Smaranda and her crew look forward to welcoming kids for a summer of fun in Sun Valley
The PlaySchool is open 7 days a week during the summer, 9am to 4pm. Call 208.622.2288. A full day of activities, including lunch, is $95. Or drop in for 2 hours ($38) or 4 hours ($73). A Young Summer Camp is on offer for ages 6 and older. Details are here. Both camps are open to the public.
RIVER RUN PLAZA SETS STAGE FOR
SKI SEASON KICK-OFF CELEBRATION
You don’t need to ski to join in the celebration of Sun Valley’s 76th ski season celebration.
River Run Plaza will come alive with fun for everyone in the family from 10 am – 2 pm on Thanksgiving Day – Sun Valley’s traditional opening of the winter season.
A variety of booths will be set up featuring interesting aspects of Sun Valley’s mountain operations, including the world’s largest grooming machine, snowmaking operations and ski patrol which will feature a gondola evacuation demonstration at 11 am.
Autumnal food and specialty drinks will be available for purchase at River Run Day Lodge.
Sun Valley Resort’s Marketing Dept. also will be on hand with their ski trade show booth complete with its accompanying spinning wheel for prizes.
The Brass Ranch and Pete Lane’s will be open for early Christmas shopping.
Everyone is invited to Sun Valley Resort’s Frontier Fun, Sunday, July 4, beginning at 5 pm in the Village.
The lawns around the Opera House and Duck Pond will be packed with music, a fun zone for games and special appearances by the Rhinestone Roper’s trick horse "Lucky Joe" and the country-western tunes of the Sound County band.
The fun begins at 5 pm with local high school musical talent followed by Sound County. The BBQ starts at 6 pm, featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, garden burgers and ice cream.
At 8 pm, the Rhinestone Ropers will perform with Sound County returning to the stage about 8:30 pm.
Free events for everyone in the family will include miniature train rides, roping and rope making, bingo, sack races, bouncy house, bean bag toss, fly fishing fun casting, face painting and more, culminating in an eye-popping fireworks display around 10 pm.
For additional information please call 208-622-2248.
Bring the entire family out to the Sun Valley Club and putt a round of 18 holes on the 52,000 sq./ft. Sawtooth Putting Course. Just $5 for Adults and $3 for kids. While you’re here enjoy lunch and drinks out on the terrace and soak in the spectacular views of baldy. Call (208) 622-2251 fro more information.