'Creating memories': In 20th season, AvalancheXpress spreads winter cheer
As a small child, Matthew DeRose Jr. vividly remembers skiing down steep slopes — at what he probably thought was the speed of sound — with the feeling of snow and wind stinging his face.
Years later, DeRose slides down the familiar AvalancheXpress "mountain," but with a new purpose: continuing to keep the winter magic alive.
Those who've journeyed to AvalancheXpress, located at 2700 Mount Rose Ave. in Springettsbury Township, for its snow tubing may be familiar with its mascot, Harry the abominable snowman. DeRose shares the honor of playing Harry with his brother, Michael.
"It was an awesome experience to be able to have something fun to go to in York County as a kid," DeRose said. "So, being able to see kids that were my age, younger, enjoying it still 20 years later is a big blessing."
AvalancheXpress is in its 20th season of snow tubing, and for only the third time in its history, opened the slopes before the new year.
The opening reception Tuesday was marked by dozens of families who journeyed into the cold for a taste of high-speed thrills and fun. Though many attendees hailed from York County, AvalancheXpress welcomed residents from all over.
While a mother and son duo from New Jersey trekked to the top of AvalancheXpress via its pulley system, one Lancaster County mother watched as her husband and children whizzed down the mountain at full speed.
With the lack of snow during the holiday weekend, Sydney Stauffer had been on the search for a winter activity for her family. Though Stauffer lives in Lancaster County, she and her family made the trip to York County for a new experience.
"The kids are really bummed that we haven't had snow this year, so I was looking for something fun and wintery to do for them," Stauffer said. "It was a little bit of a surprise, they didn't know what we were going to do until we got here. They were very excited."
It was all giggles and screams as AvalancheXpress staffers grabbed snow tubes with families and prepared them for a ride down the hill.
While some choose to go solo, other riders link up in a circle for a new experience.
AvalancheXpress was in part able to open earlier than expected due to freezing temperatures earlier in the week, according to spokesperson Kim Carl.
"We're hoping with the weather we can continue to make more snow here every evening," Carl said. "We're just returning to what is so important here — at the heart of creating memories."
Interested individuals who wish to purchase tickets for AvalancheXpress can check out all available time slots by visiting www.avalanchexpress.com. Each time slot is three hours, Carl added.