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Legislator Mills revisits history of Chestnut Ridge Park’s toboggan chutes on anniversary of their reopening


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oneilj - Posted on 09 January 2013

The popular and iconic toboggan chutes at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park opened for the season on Dec. 28, 2012 following the Christmas snowstorm that brought more than a foot of snow to the region. Legislator John Mills was pleased with the Erie County Parks Department’s announcement that the chutes were ready to open, especially since it wasn’t that long ago they were closed indefinitely.


(Read former Orchard Park Press editor Robert Lowell Goller's feature on the toboggan chutes by clicking here - great historic photos!)


“After the red-green budget fiasco a lot changed in Erie County and closures were abundant, including the toboggan chutes. Knowing how popular they were, it was a disappointing loss but without the funds to repair and operate the chutes safely, there were no options at the time. Fortunately, under the direction of former County Executive Chris Collins and support from myself and my colleagues in the Legislature, adequate funding was allocated to make the necessary restorations. We reopened the chutes for the first time in five years in January 2010,” said Legislator Mills.


He added, that although the chutes were structurally sound, the 2011-2012 mild winter greatly limited access. However, so far, this year’s winter appears to be well suited for tobogganing. The current hours of operation are: Fridays, 4-8 p.m. and weekends and holidays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.


“It was important to our community that we restored and reopened the toboggan runs, which are approximately 80 years old and one of only a few that remain operational in the United States. More than a tradition, they greatly improve visitors experience at Chestnut Ridge Park and compliment the great sledding and snowboarding hill, along the many other winter activities offered,” said Legislator Mills.


A county photograph from 1927 shows the first toboggan runs were much smaller than the chutes used today, installed soon after the park was founded in 1925. The larger chutes were built in the 1930s and at one time there were three sets of chutes but one was taken down over the years.


If the forecast holds, it appears enough snow will remain to operate the chutes at this year’s Winterfest, hosted by Erie County and the Town of Orchard Park with the support of generous sponsors. Winterfest will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 27 at Chestnut Ridge Park.


“I encourage families to come out and enjoy Chestnut Ridge Park during Winterfest. With many activities planned, both indoor and outdoor, it will be a great event for all ages,” said Legislator Mills.


For additional information or to speak with Legislator Mills, please contact his Legislative Office at (716) 858-8850 or email john.mills@erie.gov.