By Kellen M. Quigley

As blankets of snow continue to fall over Western New York, eager skiers and snowboards will head to Ellicottville this weekend for opening day at HoliMont.

While the cold temperatures and harsher driving conditions may make winter less enjoyable for some, plenty could be hitting the slopes for the first time Friday and making their way downhill for another season of snowsport fun.

The chairlifts at HoliMont will begin spinning and headed up the hills Friday, Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. for the resort’s 57th year.

Lift tickets will be only $29 and lifts will run until 4:20 p.m.

Mother Nature has been kind to Ellicottville lately with several inches of snowfall during December already, much of it sticking to the tops of the hills.

However, crews have been busy the past several weeks with snowmaking efforts themselves, some of which might be the same snow skiers and snowboarders will be gliding over come April.

Although the exact number of trails and lifts to be open Friday is yet to be determined, officials say the ones that will be open will be groomed to perfection.

A lot of the projects done at HoliMont this year are things people wouldn’t ordinarily notice because much of it is underground, including piping upgrades, which are done annually.

However, above ground, people might notice the 21 new Super Pole Cat Fan Guns that have been added for snowmaking.

These fan guns will allow for more permanent and effective snowmaking in some of the problem areas where there are natural springs and low spots that always need special attention. The goal is to have 100-percent coverage, meaning every single slope will have snowmaking on it.

HoliMont’s programs haven’t changed much and are similar to recent years, except for a few modifications.

Future development in the WestMont area of the resort is still in the master plan but, unfortunately, those plans are on hold for some different reasons.

The plan is expected to happen in phases and will include new slopes and eventually a new lodge, along with a new beginner area. Additionally, HoliMont has plans to improve the children’s programs and learn to ski programs by giving beginners their own area with a wide-open space.

Upcoming winter events at HoliMont include Snowshoe Social, Jan. 12; Contractors Day, Jan. 25; Men’s Day, Feb. 1; Ladies’ Day, Feb. 22; and the new “Frosty CX” fat bike race coming Feb. 23.

The resort is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends for guests and members, except for Christmas week.

For more details on rates for memberships and daily ski passes, call the office at 699-2320, or visit online at holimont.com. lebration included activities for families and visitors as well as the lighting of the traditional        

C    Christmas and more recent Ski trees.

On Friday, Nov. 30, the tradition begun 13 years ago by Ellicottville’s own Bob McCarthy returns to Ellicottville Brewing Company. It’s the annual Bob McCarthy’s Irish Christmas.

It was McCarthy who said, “I love doing Irish Christmas, which is a night of Irish magic. I don’t know how the magic gets there, but it just does. That’s the beauty of it.”

The Irish Christmas fundraiser has become an event to remember and one that locals and weekenders alike love to see. McCarthy’s wagon will be parked outside EBC around 7 a.m. for new toys and unwrapped gifts to be collected for Santa’s Workshop and the Sheriff’s Santa Program.

On Saturday, Dec. 1, the Christmas Stroll returns to Ellicottville for its 31st year. From 4 to 5:30 p.m., Santa and his elves will be at Villaggio while Mrs. Claus will be baking some cookies at Katy’s Cafe.

From 4:15 to 5:30 p.m., enjoy wagon Rides around the village, and 4:30 watch the Rein Dog Parade down Washington Street The Ellicottville Central band at the gazebo at 5:30.

At 6 p.m., Living Nativity will be at the gazebo with jazz choir accompanying.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, come one, come all, to the Ellicottville Christmas Party, presented by the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce, at Holiday Valley’s Tannenbaum Lodge.

The Ellicottville Christmas Party is the place to get together with all of your friends and family that live, work and play in Ellicottville.

The menu for the night will include some of the best food around and enjoy live music by XPRIME.

Opening Day at HoliMont is tentatively scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14. With 21 new snowmaking machines and plenty of project improvements over the summer, the slopes will be packed and ready for the season to begin.

On Saturday, Dec. 15, try before you buy with Demo day at Holiday Valley.

Free demos from Ellicottville’s specialty ski and snowboard shops will be slopeside of the Holiday Valley Lodge. Credit card required for deposit and parent signature if under 18.

This event is brought to you by local shops Mud Sweat ‘n Gears, The City Garage, Dekdebrun’s Apex Store and The Boardroom, where you’ll get the best service from the most knowledgeable technicians.

A New Year’s Eve Celebration will be held Monday, Dec. 31 at Holiday Valley.

Join in the fun beginning at 9 p.m. with a family-friendly event on the Holiday Valley Lodge main floor.

The lodge is the perfect location to view the Groomer Parade and the torchlight parade on Cindy’s Run at 11:15 and the fireworks at 11:45 with the Grand Finale at midnight.

Enjoy everything Ellicottville has to offer this holiday season as well as those freshly powdered slopes.