TRAVERSE CITY — By CAROL SOUTH
A spirit akin to duct tape — innovation, determination and sticking together — saved Mt. Holiday.
But it's time for the real stuff to go.
As staff, board members and volunteers prepare for the nonprofit ski facility's fifth annual fundraiser, one priority is upgrading ski and snowboard rental equipment. With some boots sporting the versatile adhesive in strategic locations, an upgrade is overdue.
"They're still safe, still operational but when you look at it you think, 'Oh my gosh, those poor kids having to use that stuff,'" said Theresa Galante, lodge and office operations manager at the Acme ski and recreation areas.
Scheduled for Saturday, Mt. Holiday's Dinner in the Hills will be held at the renovated lodge for the second consecutive year. The event will feature live and silent auctions plus a cigar tent and live music.
Tasting stations will honor the dinner's theme of northern Michigan wild game. Each station will showcase appetizers, entrees and desserts created by local chefs using local ingredients. Both local and national wines and beers will be paired with the food.
This year's Dinner in the Hills will boost the nonprofit's general operating fund, helping in part to finance chairlift, grooming and other equipment maintenance.
As bills mount while preparing for the upcoming season — estimated to begin in mid-December — organizers hope to exceed last year's revenue of $17,000. They are targeting $20,000 with cautious optimism.
"This is such a hard economy for 501c3s; nonprofits are really struggling," Galante said. "So we're trying to make it so people still want to give and they can know that their monies are being used wisely."
Founded in 1949 by a group of citizens, Mt. Holiday is situated on a 45-acre site that features stunning views of the Grand Traverse Bay. Saving the facility and subsequent extensive renovations have been a grass-roots endeavor since the early 2000s.
With many tasks completed and a shrinking critical to-do list, fundraising still remains crucial. It may look "done," as many perceive the upgraded lodge and other facilities, but money for ongoing projects is still needed. The facility spent $125,000 just to make snow last year and faces some unexpected one-time repairs this fall.
"Aesthetically, we look great — we are great," said Michelle Konstanzer, Mt. Holiday's food and beverage manager. "The reality of it is people don't tend to look beyond the front door and realize that we still need money for repairs and maintenance for the hill. I don't want anyone to feel we're not safe, we are, it's just the ongoing costs."
This fall a second outreach event has been added to Mt. Holiday's schedule: an Octoberfest, from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9. The family-friendly event will feature children's activities, live music, food and the Michigan-Michigan State football game on television. Refreshments will include beer from Right Brain Brewery as well as local cider and root beer.
"We decided to do that because Russell (Springsteen) from Right Brain has partnered with us and he does not believe in handing money out but in creating events that nonprofits like us can continue yearly," Konstanzer said.
Dinner in the Hills will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday at Mt. Holiday in Traverse City. Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased in a table of eight or a stand-up cocktail roundtable of four. For more information on Mt. Holiday, upcoming events or to purchase Dinner in the Hills tickets, call 938-2500 or see www.mt-holiday.com.