Warmth shuts down Toboggan Chute

The Siegert/Titas family from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, takes a run down the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute in February 2019 during the annual Lions Club races. From front to back are son Owen Siegert, mom Megan Titas, family friend Nancy Miller of San Diego, California, and dad Jeff Siegert. It was their first time tobogganing. (Enterprise photo — Andy Flynn)

LAKE PLACID — Town of North Elba Park District officials on Friday announced that the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute — which was originally supposed to be open that evening, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon — will be closed until further notice “due to unseasonable weather.”

Temperatures were unseasonably warm all last week, with highs in the 30s and 40s, rain on Thursday and Thursday night and high winds on Friday. It cooled off on Saturday, but the temperatures climbed again on Sunday and are expected to be warm all week until Friday night, when the National Weather Service forecasts a low in the single digits.

“If we can get the chute itself, the tower, rebuilt solid, we can handle 40. We just can’t handle 50s or any kind of rain,” North Elba Park District Manager Butch Martin said on Monday. “The lake itself is good right now.”

The plan is for Park District staff to patch up the ice that got washed away last week once the temperatures get colder Friday night and into Saturday. This is the first weekend of the Presidents Week holiday when many schools are closed and visitors typically converge on Lake Placid for a vacation. Next Monday is Presidents’ Day.

“We’ll get it if it’s possible,” Martin said. “Staff is doing everything they can to get us up and running again.”

The Lake Placid Toboggan Chute opened for the season on Sunday, Feb. 5, as temperatures rebounded into the 30s after two days of dangerous, subzero wind chills. More than 200 people enjoyed the attraction that afternoon, according to Martin. But that’s the only day it’s been open so far this winter.

Visitors pay admission ($20 for adults, $10 for students) at a shack at the bottom of the chute, where they are handed a toboggan for the group. After climbing stairs to the top of the structure, groups sit on their toboggans, and Park District employees push them down the runway. After the plunge, the toboggan will slide as far as it can go on the plowed ice below. There is no way to steer it.

According to the toboggan rules and regulations, passengers should keep their arms and legs on toboggan at all times; and clear the track when the ride is complete (as another toboggan is right behind you). Also, visitors are warned that, due to friction when sliding down the toboggan chute, some types of nylon ski pants may wear through. Therefore, durable pants, such as jeans, are recommended.

“We are not responsible for damaged pants,” the Park District states.

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.

The Lake Placid Lions Club is expected to hold its annual toboggan races on Saturday, Feb. 25, the second weekend of Presidents Week, weather permitting. Registration starts at 6:25 p.m., and races start at 6:30. There are prizes for sleds traveling the farthest on the ice.

Get updates about the toboggan chute on the town of North Elba’s Facebook page or online at www.northelba.org. On the website, click on Departments, Park District, then Toboggan Chute.


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