Howler goes out with a bang

Slide managers pleased with sales as season ends

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— Locals and visitors to Steamboat Springs got an affordable last chance to "howl" during the final weekend of seasonal operation for the Howler Alpine Slide at Howelsen Hill, as slide managers say end-of-the-year numbers were strong for the recreation attraction.

All rides during the weekend were $3, down from $8, in a locals appreciation weekend for the slide.

At about noon on Sunday, slide manager Jennifer Fuller said not as many people took advantage of the inexpensive passes, compared to a similar discounted weekend in the spring. However, throughout the summer, Fuller said the slide was popular with tourists and locals.

"For our first full season, it's been great," she said.

Season numbers showed the slide sold 12,949 adult passes, 3,747 children's passes, 8,904 doubles passes, 1,653 adult five-ride passes and 1,099 children's five-ride passes.

The Howler opened for business for the first time Aug. 12, 2000, and opened for its first full season this past spring, employing about 35 people. Being the first year of operation, it is difficult to estimate how good the numbers are, but slide manager Eric Fisher said after contacting other alpine slides in the state, he thinks the numbers are strong.

"We are extremely pleased," he said.

July was the busiest month for the slide, Fuller said. She noted that participants of Triple Crown sporting tournaments were one of its biggest customers during that time.

"We had a line going out the door when they were in town," she said.

Slide employees collected 1,872 coupons for the slide that were handed out to Triple Crown participants.

One small setback for the slide during the summer were reports that some people were being injured by falling out of the plastic carts while going down the concrete track.

"You control your own speed, so it's as safe as you make it," Fuller explained.

Local Maria Toye rode the slide for the first time Sunday because she received free passes from friends. She admitted that hearing stories of people being hurt kept her from going to the slide before. Now, after Toye rode it for herself, she changed her mind.

"I didn't realize it was so safe," she said.

Sabyl Horneck of Denver visited the slide with her family numerous times during the weekend.

"It's so much fun. We actually rode it more yesterday," she said.

Horneck's 9-year-old daughter, Kinsey, was the catalyst in the multiple visits to the Howler.

"I think it's really, really fun," Kinsey said.

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