LAKE PLACID — After a warm spell shuttered the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute on Mirror Lake for more than two weeks, the popular attraction reopened on Wednesday during the busy Presidents’ Week holiday.
The Toboggan Chute had only been open one day, Feb. 5, before North Elba Park District officials closed the venue due to unseasonably warm weather. The problem wasn’t the ice on Mirror Lake. It was plenty thick where it had been plowed, with at least 12 inches needed to open the slide. It’s the ice runs on the chute itself that had melted away due to warm temperatures and rain and had to be rebuilt.
“We know it’s a busy week for everybody,” Willis Clark, of the North Elba Park District, said on Saturday, Feb. 18 as town workers began rebuilding one of the two runs on the chute. “We want it to be open. Of course, we want it to be safe for everybody as well. … We just do what we can. We can’t beat Mother Nature.”
Visitors stopped by the chute that morning, inquiring about the work town employees were doing. Clark was answering questions from one visitor on the Mirror Lake ice while Ward Smith finished watering the slush-packed run at the top with a hose.
In order to rebuild the ice run on the Toboggan Chute, there first needs to be snow, which there was from the day before and snowbanks from earlier snowfalls.
“We carry the snow up the run and fill up the lanes,” Clark said. “Once we get the lanes full, we hook up the hose at the water spigot up top, turn on the water, and we water the snow and pack it to make slush and smooth it out until it freezes.”
Once it freezes, the slide can continue to be watered to build up the ice. Temperatures had dipped into the single digits Friday night, but by 10 a.m., when town workers had done everything they could for the day, the temperature had risen to about 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
It was sunny with a stiff wind sweeping across the lake as visitors began skating on the plowed-out areas and taking dogsled rides behind the Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort and near Brewster Park at the other end of Main Street.
“Right now, we’re at the point where we have to let it set,” Clark said shortly after 10 a.m. “When the cooler temperatures come again tonight, we will come back in and hopefully be able to water more to open tomorrow.”
Upon inspection this past Sunday morning, town workers decided they could not open the chute that afternoon, as they had hoped.
“Temperatures did not fall enough to allow us to build up the ice on the tower,” North Elba Park District Manager Butch Martin said on Sunday morning. Things look promising after Tuesday.”
The workers needed temperatures in the teens and single digits.
When a town employee stopped by the Toboggan Chute just before 7 a.m. Wednesday, the temperature was in the low teens, allowing him to finish spraying one run with water and build up the ice. Later in the day, Martin made the call to open the chute that evening.
“It all went good last night,” Martin said Thursday morning, adding that people were already lined up by the time the chute opened at 6:30 p.m. In all, he estimated that about 300 people visited the Toboggan Chute Wednesday evening. That night, fresh snow fell on the region, giving town workers enough extra snow to start rebuilding the second run on the chute.
The Toboggan Chute, located on Parkside Drive, will be open today from noon to 4 p.m. and for the annual Lake Placid Lions Club toboggan races starting at 6:30 p.m.; and from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for students, which includes a wooden toboggan and unlimited rides per session.
The current toboggan chute — which was built by Jeffords Steel and erected during the winter of 2016-2017 — includes two runs. Sledders — up to four on a toboggan — climb to the top of the chute, where North Elba Park District staff send them down to the ice, which is cleared off for hundreds of feet. At night, the landing is illuminated with floodlights.
The old slide, which was demolished and scrapped, had been converted into the toboggan chute from a Lake Placid Club ski jump in 1965.
Get updates about the Toboggan Chute on the town of North Elba’s Facebook page or online at www.northelba.org.
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