Kirby Neumann-Rea photo
“Queen of the Mountain,” 50-year employee Aidee Farwig, center, responds to a standing ovation Thursday during the resort’s 50th anniversary celebration in Portland. With her are Heidi Logosz, sustainability manager at Meadows, and CEO Matthew Drake.
As of Thursday, February 1, 2018
Mount Hood, called “the mountain of youth” by one speaker, is an ageless wonder to another.
The 400 or so people at the 50th anniversary of Mount Hood Meadows ski resort Jan. 25 heard words honoring the half-century old resort as an organization, and the mountain itself as a vital, venerated place.
Attendees of the event, held at Portland’s Pure Space, 1315 NW Overton St., Portland, heard Meadows CEO Matthew Drake thank his father, resort founder Franklin Drake, and praise the past while predicting a glowing future for the resort, which opened on Jan. 28, 1968. Leased then and now from the U.S. Forest Service, it served 14,000 people its first year; an estimated 400,000 will visit in 2018.
Ron Suppah of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs noted the meadows, and surrounding mountain country, remain revered places of hunting, gathering and prayer for the indigenous people of the region.
“We’ve been there a long time,” said Suppah, who also sang a prayer song about Mount Hood to welcome the assemblage prior to a program and buffet meal.
Suppah said, “My grandfather was a healer, and the source of his powers came from the waters of what is called the White River,” which neighbors the resort area.
Hood River resident Jake Bolland, Meadows’ chief operating officer, credited “Franklin’s vision and superb leadership and Matthew’s (Drake) uncanny ability to see perspective.”
Said Bolland, “Mt. Hood Meadows is a major player in the industry because of the current and former team members.”
Special honors went to Hood River’s Aidee Farwig, who has worked for all 50 years at the resort and crowned “Queen of the Mountain.” Several dozen employees with 20, 30 and 40-plus years’ service were also recognized.
Franklin Drake could not attend for health reasons, but he watched the event via live stream and the audience heard him speak in the first of four “My Mountain Home” promotional videos created for the anniversary. The videos, by Hood River’s Pierce Hodges, profile selected Meadows users and employees and are on the Meadows’ web site.
In the video, Franklin Drake said of his mid-1960s memories of the north side of Mt. Hood, “I could see the natural potential. I am proud of the fact we have been able to continue to improve the experience. I have built a lot of things in my career, but nothing has been as rewarding as building the ski area, and hopefully it will continue on with the good staff and Matthew’s leadership for 30 or 40 years.”
Matthew Drake noted that the resort’s opening in January 1968 came at a time when American society was torn by war and, later that year, the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and then Robert F. Kennedy.
“During this tumultuous period, Oregonians sought a safe and fun place to recreate, a place to restore their shaken spirits and re-establish their emotional and physical equilibrium. Mt. Hood Meadows quickly became a special sanctuary for recovery and restoration for many Oregonians. Fifty years later, we remain a special Oregon place for rejuvenation of the human spirit.”