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Big White Sweater Ball

Contributed by Judi Zienchuck

This Saturday, December 7th marked the official 50th anniversary of Big White Ski Resort’s opening in 1963. In order to commemorate this event, the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation Big White Sweater Ball, Presented by Telus was created.

The event welcomed a variety of guests; from members of the mountain’s original ski patrol team to young season pass holders. Small talk centred on the evolution of the mountain over the past half century.

Veteran pass holder, Roger, said that the biggest change he’s noted over the past 50 years was that “I learned to ski on a free bar. There was a T-bar that would take you up the hill for free. It would lift you up about 10ft, spin you around and then put you back down – hopefully facing forward. My dad got upset the first year he bought me a season pass because I would go and ski the free bar instead of the paid lifts”.

The night’s events began with a set list by the band Easy Fix, followed by buffet service catered by the Kettle Valley Steakhouse and Head Chef Chad Miller.

Next off, the evening got into full swing with speeches from some of the mountain’s most influential people from the past 50 years. Doug Mervyn and Cliff Serwa spoke about their first encounters with the undeveloped mountain, camping on the hill and accidentally skiing into grizzly bears. Serwa looks back on these days fondly, optimistically recounting “we almost died together on more than one occasion, so we have absolute trust and confidence in each other, it was a partnership made almost in heaven”.

Michael J. Ballingall, Sr. Vice President of Big White Ski Resort, also spoke about the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, which Telus and Big White are proud sponsors of. The hospital offers a range of services and last year treated 60,000 emergencies, performed 32,000 surgeries and delivered 1,600 babies. In addition to the funds raised at the Sweater Ball through ticket sales and a silent auction, Telus is also donating $75,000 to the foundation over the next three years.

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