Chilly thrill returns to Buchanan

Published 4:59 pm Thursday, January 21, 2016

Leader file photo

Leader file photo

BUCHANAN, Mich. — You’ve heard about it from a couple family members or friends, you’ve been curious, and this year you tell yourself you have to go see what all of the excitement is about.

You park your car in downtown Buchanan and make the short walk to the ticket window to get your wristband. You pay your $5 and a volunteer hands you a tube. Then you turn to make your way to the hill and you see it, the 12-foot tall wooden ramp perched on top of the city’s main street.

At that moment something is pulled out of you, something you might not have felt in a long time but now feel as strongly as you did when you were a child.

The thrill.

Buchanan’s annual Thrill on the Hill snow-tubing event is quickly becoming a regional January tradition. The 2016 version of the event looks to be even better than year’s past and marks the fifth year of the Front Street festivities.

Like it has every year since its inaugural run in 2012, the event will take place the last weekend in January, this year on the 29th and 30th. Everything kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, when the hill is officially opened for the weekend.

For children 5 years and younger there will be games and contests as well as a mini-hill, constructed near the bottom of the main hill. The hill is only open from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday night and wristbands are $3 for the three hours.

After a few hours of grooming, the ramp atop Front Street is reopened for the adult midnight run from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Cost for the adult tubing is $5. Throughout the entire event tubes will be provided and bringing a personal tube or sled is prohibited.

Saturday there will be a full day of activities for people of all ages. The hill will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. but the cost of an all-day wrist band is still $3.

Smoke Family Vision Center will be hosting a snowman building contest in its parking lot between Front and Rynearson St.

It has been rumored that Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf the Red-nose Reindeer and Pete the Penguin will all be in attendance on Saturday.

For the second year, the Buchanan Area Chamber of Commerce is offering horse-drawn carriage rides around the downtown area. Carriage rides will be from 3 to 7 p.m. on Saturday only, $5 per rider. There will be a large fire pit near the bottom of the hill for riders who want to take a break and warm up a little.

According to Buchanan City Manager Bill Marx, this year the ramp will be placed higher atop the hill to lengthen the trip down for riders. The slide is approx. 800 feet from top to bottom this year, the longest it has ever been.

Volunteer firefighters will be on site and will be tossing stress relief “snowballs,” some of which will be marked to redeem for prizes, from their fire ladder. Throughout the entire weekend a DJ will be playing music and holding dance contests for people of all ages.