CAMDEN – When winter hits Maine, folks don’t run from the snow.
They embrace it.
In Camden, they toboggan.
“The aches and pains last a little longer then they used to,” says Bruce Dancause, “But it’s fun.”
The U.S. National Toboggan Championships are a special time of year for the area.
A time for thousands of people across the globe to get out of their house for some break-neck fun.
A time for costumes, creativity, and even tailgating.
Many come to Camden every year to celebrate their plunge down a 400-foot toboggan chute, 81 years in the making.
But if you keep your eyes solely on the tracks, you may miss what’s really behind those costumes.
“We came all the way from Arizona just for this,” says Sebastian Brigham, a team member of the “Cactus Clowns.”
Sebastian and his family have made the trek cross country to share this ride together.
“We came up here this summer and we Googled the snow bowl,” he says. “We found this and we decided, ‘Oh, what the heck.'”
For the Super Adventure Danger League, it’s a time for friends.
They have been coming to the toboggan races for 10 years now.
“We started here as kids out of college and we have kids of our own and it’s a blast,” says Dancause, a member of the team.
Teams come together behind much more than silly costumes, united behind their past relationships.
“We’re all naval veterans,” says Roger Crossland, a member of team “Sokwajiweg,” Ogunqit for “swims in formation.”
People also come together through the memories forged from the event.
“Ken Bailey was my late husband, he was the manager of the Snow Bowl and the park and rec director here in the town of Camden,” says Sandra Bailey, a dedicated fan referencing the Ken Bailey Timing Shed at the event. “He used to operate for many years out of the front seat of a van, they finally decided to build him a timing shed. I don’t imagine 27 years was in his mind, but he would be so proud.”
It’s clear this event is 27 years going strong for reasons other than getting out during the cold winter months.
It’s for making memories with the ones you love.
“Just the friendship and everything we have together and we all get together and it’s one of the great times of the year,” says Skip Pound, member of the “Local Yokels.”
So if this appeals to you, grab your sled, because Tobogganville hopes to see you next year for a ride to remember.