Hundreds of Detroiters will venture out this month for skiing and some hardcore partying, especially during the Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Whether you can ski or not, there’s still time to join in.
Since the formation of the Jim Dandy Ski Club of 1958-believed to be the first Black ski club in North America-Detroiters have been getting together to hit the slopes and breaking the myth that Black folks don’t ski.
When the club was featured in Ebony magazine in 1962, it connected with other skiers around the country, inspiring the birth of at least 90 other clubs since then.
The tradition continues in 2013 with trips for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling in Michigan and other states as far away as Colorado for winter fun.
The annual National Brotherhood of Skiers, the largest gathering, has more than 3,000 members from 43 cities.
If you go, prepare for unbridled fun with parties, contests and shows. Here’s a rundown of this winter’s most popular trips.
MLK BLACK Ski Weekend, Boyne Mountain Resort
Event organizer Shed Amin touts this Martin Luther King Jr. weekend as “The Original” Black ski weekend, but it very well may be the originator of the most fun events. In its 17th year, nearly 1,000 people are expected to attend this annual excursion, which runs Jan. 18-21. Besides skiing, the MLK Ski Weekend in Boyne Falls, Mich., hosts an array of themed parties, such as the “Rep Yo City” party, a pajama party and a white T-shirt party on the final night. Guests also can enjoy speed dating, “Drunken Idol” karaoke, a comedy show, tubing, zip lining and networking. Ages range from about 25 to 45.
“People travel from all over to converge in one place in the middle of nowhere,” Amin says. “People come from Canada, the U.K., California, Florida, New York, Seattle, Washington, Oregon.”
Prices range from $1,000 to $3,050 per room for the weekend.
National Brotherhood of Skiers 2013 Black Ski Summit
This year’s weeklong National Brotherhood of Skiers’ Black Ski Summit gets underway Feb. 23-March 2 in Snowmass, Colo.
“It’s basically like a convention,” says Lyron Maxey, vice president of the Jim Dandy Ski Club. “It’s seven days of skiing, parties, networking, having fun. All of that.”
Register for the trip through a National Brotherhood of Skiers’ member club, such as the Jim Dandy Ski Club.
Registration ranges $50-$75 for ages 20 and younger, $200 for seniors 65 and older, and $300-$350 for adults. Rooms start at $678 per person.
MLK Ski-Lebration, Crystal Mountain
The Jim Dandy Ski Club will host this weekend gathering Jan. 11-13 at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Mich.
The trip is family-friendly with some members so young they are taking their first steps–and as old as 90.
“We call it the MLK SKI-lebration. We take the opportunity to use this weekend to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. and his movement,” says long-time member Maxey, noting the club also hosts year-round activities such as golfing, water sports and other recreational trips. Prices start at $415 for ski packages and room.
Winter Ski Fest, Gatlingburg, Tenn.
This ski trip is jam-packed with 20 events in four days-Jan. 18-21-for a wide range of activities, from an ‘80s and ‘90s party to the “All Black After Dark Pool Party.”
Watch the football game at the NFL Playoff Happy Hour or participate in the Venus vs. Mars football game, where the women and men go head-to-head. Dress in your best black and white attire for their President’s Ball in honor of the presidential inauguration.
“When we first started Winter Ski Fest, we had just over 100 people go on the trip, including staff. This year, we anticipate in the neighborhood of 1,000 guests,” event organizer Malik Mitchel says. “About 70 percent of our guests try skiing or snowboarding, but we have to be honest-some people have so much fun at our other activities, they don’t make it out to the slopes.”
Catch a ride to the location on one of the all-you-can-drink party buses that leave from Atlanta, Baltimore, St. Louis and Memphis. Package pricing ranges $355-$675 per person and include accommodations for three nights, all events and taxes.
– ALANA WALKER STUDIES JOURNALISM AT WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY AND IS A B.L.A.C. MAGAZINE EDITORIAL INTERN.