Taos Ski Valley has the magic of being the creation and the vision of one person: Ernie Blake.
A ski resort looks like a thing: a place of recreation, a business. But Taos Ski Valley has the magic of being so much more. Its 1,294 acres is the creation and the vision of one person: Ernie Blake.
To celebrate our local ski pioneer, Taos Ski Valley is hosting a celebratory event on Saturday (March 9) at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to the "Ernie Blake's Birthday Celebration and Fireworks" at the base area. Taos Ski Valley employees will be serving a birthday cake as part of the fun. The event is free.
To wow the crowds, there will be a torchlight parade. "These are employees skiing down some difficult terrain in the dark holding flares. It's impressive," said Dash Hegeman, marketing manager for Taos Ski Valley.
Mickey Blake, Ernie's son and former head of Taos Ski Valley, was 10 years old when he first came to the area with his father and mother, Rhoda. The whole mountainside had ruins of mining operations. There were no ski slopes.
When asked what he thought his dad would think about the upcoming birthday events at the ski valley, Mickey said, "My Dad was born in 1913, he would have been 106 on his birthday. [He died in 1989.] I believe he would think the celebration, started by Mary Madden and Ann Blake the year after his passing, is a great idea. Most of the family won't come this year because they traveled to Taos in January for my brother Peter's wedding. Most years they try to schedule their trips to coincide with the celebration."
The birthday celebration is an annual tradition at the ski valley and coincides with the March spring break period. About the fireworks displays, Hegeman said, "The vibe on the plaza has been growing for every single show. Gemini Fireworks out of Albuquerque is the company that facilitates the fireworks and they go all out. They typically post up on Whitefeather just below the Snakedance run. There are large explosions and lots of fancy colors."
Tempo discussed with Mickey Blake just how special, and possibly unique, it is to have a ski resort so dedicated to celebrating its founder. Mickey agreed that Ernie had realized a dream -- and didn't do it alone. "You have to read [Rick Richards'] book 'Ski Pioneers.' It tells the story of how they did it," he said.
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