This article was originally published on March 22, 2016.
A year-long, aerial time-lapse of Gallagher Park would tell the story of a multi-use gathering place that draws people for very different reasons from season to season. In the winter, bundled-up folks flock to the snow-covered hill carrying toboggans, skis, and snowboards—the climb up is slow, the ride down fast, and it happens over and over again in a seemingly endless wave of people. The sun sets and the Muttart pyramids begin to glow a brighter blue.
When the sun rises on spring, white has given way to a mosaic of greens that spreads across the entire city. The trails in the park come alive with cyclists, runners, walkers; people gradually shedding more and more clothing as the days get warmer and warmer.
With summer, the park is in full bloom. The occasional kite, drone, hang glider, and hot-air balloon take flight. Fences and stages and tents and tarps appear. A sea of people flows into the park—it swells and sways before ebbing away, the tarps and tents and fences and stages disappearing.
A rapid colour change across the city signals fall—greens give way to yellows and reds and hibernation browns. Cyclists, runners, walkers slowly start donning thicker and thicker clothing, bulking up with the season to come. The Muttart Conservatory parking lot fills and empties—people gravitating to the warmth and humidity of the tropical pyramid, preparing for the blanket of white cold ready to fall on the city.
In each of the seasons, we know what to do, where to go, how to dress, the seasonally specific happenings around town. But what about those awkward transition periods? When it's not quite spring yet but no longer really winter. What do we call this in-between season—sprinter, brown month, the Slush Solstice? And what should we do besides waiting for the slush to melt away and dirty brown to turn cleany green?
For the second year in a row, when snow and ice turn to slush, the in-between season belongs to Slush Cup—an event where people adorn costumes and strap into ski and snowboards before trying to skim across an olympic-sized pool of slush without falling in. Slush Cup is an all-day event with festivities that culminate with the Torch Light Parade where, after dark, skiers get in formation and light up the hill in a blur of motion and colour.
Slush Cup is held on March 18 at the Edmonton Ski Club. There were prizes for Slush Cup, Big Air, Rail Jam, and Slide Ride competitors; food, drink, music, and draws for everyone; and there was even polar bear swims and tug o' wars for those interested.
Admission is free but there is a fee for competitors. To learn more about Slush Cup, go to the Edmonton Ski Club website.
The registration fee for Slush Cup is $20/person or $10/ESC Season Pass holders.
Click here to volunteer at the event!
Michelle Zenon, a volunteer with the Edmonton Ski Club, is the driving force behind Slush Cup and a 2016 Project Accelerator Grant recipient.
Q: How do you feel about winter?
I love doing things in winter. My daughter and I have enjoyed winter picnics, fireworks, skiing, skating, festivals, and walking around taking amazing winter pictures. It's easy to be outside if you have the proper outerwear!
Q: What does Edmonton winter need more of?
Fun, creative events in an outdoor environment that provide shelter or services close by to warm up in if it gets really cold. Events that are accessible by all, affordable, that can host both participants and spectators.
Q: What is the inspiration behind your project?
Skiing right downtown, where else can you do that? Historical components and the success of the Edmonton Ski Club is important to me. Helping inner city kids and physically challenged skiers to get out on to the hills is very important to the Club. We want to make this facility accessible to all.
Q: How can people help and get involved?
We need volunteers to help with the event, people to help with parking, security, food preparation, food sales, someone to video the event and take quality promotional pictures, and live music for the evening would be fantastic! So would a donation of cash or fireworks for our finale.
Q: Any other thoughts about your project and why you are making it happen?
The City has a master plan for this particular area of the river valley; it will soon be accessible by transit. Our vision is to create an all-season, multipurpose hub for cultural, recreational, and fitness activities in the heart of Edmonton. Edmonton Ski Club is ideally situated to play a central role in the future cultural and recreational development of the downtown river valley. As the core population grows, the demand for year-round multi-purpose outdoor activities expands. Once the LRT infrastructure is put in place, the Club's natural and historical assets will be key to achieving the full potential of our beautiful and beloved valley.