A ski mountain celebrating the return of spring sounds a little counterintuitive — like a tree wishing for drought.

But spring optimism compels people to make merry, even if it means the snow under their skis is about to melt.

During the annual Spring Fling Beach Party at Shawnee Peak in Bridgton on Saturday, snow lovers will celebrate the impending season and the winter that’s almost over — but not over yet.

“People look forward to it. It’s people’s last hurrah,” said Melissa Rock, marketing director at Shawnee Peak. “We’re open one more week, but people call that their last weekend.”

The Spring Fling combines the snowy mountain trails with live reggae music, barbecue and activities most folks are used to seeing at the beach.

“You combine the bright sun, sitting on the deck like you’re in Florida, but there’s snow everywhere,” said Rock. “And combine that with a great event.”

Attendees are welcome to hang out on the Blizzard’s Pub deck or hit the slopes for a few final pre-spring runs. Adventurous skiers and boarders can take to the water and sign up for the annual Slush Cup competition, which starts at 1:30 p.m. The Slush Cup tests a contestant’s ability to remain upright while skimming across a 100-foot-long man-made pond of frigid water.

It’s a popular event, said Rock, and contestants really get into it.

“I’ve seen people in shorts out there,” she said. “Some people do the Slush Cup in very little clothing. I’ve seen a duct tape bikini. I’ve seen businessmen with briefcases, a guy who dressed up like a banana last year. People have dressed up like gorillas.”

The Hawaiian theme is typically popular, too.

With a blend of strategy and luck, some contenders will make it to the other side. Plenty of others will meet a cold, wet demise somewhere along the way. The 75 open spots fill up quickly, according to Rock, so interested skiers and boarders need to sign up early. Registration opens at 10 a.m. near the cafeteria in the base lodge and all of the day’s events are free.

At the same time, teams can register for the snow volleyball tournament, which starts at 2:30 p.m. at the SnowSports School Meeting area. The round robin tournament is new to the Spring Fling, but after 20 teams signed up for a similar tournament during Family Day earlier in the season, event organizers knew it would be a hit.

Mountain visitors will also enjoy the outdoor barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, drinks and more for $12 per person.

There will also be live reggae music in Blizzard’s Pub from noon to 5 p.m., with a break during the Slush Cup, and WHEB 100.3 FM-Portsmouth will be on hand with freebies and promotions. There’s no cover charge to kick back amid the spring-inspired sounds.

And if tradition holds, the weather should scream spring, too.

“It seems like it’s always a bright, beautiful day,” said Rock. “People leave with big, fat grins.”

And while the weekend marks the end of the season for many of Maine’s skiers and boarders, that fact doesn’t seem to dampen their spirits.

“It ends the season on a great note,” she said. “We want people to remember that day. The great memories will last all summer.”

And before anyone knows it, winter will be here again. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

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