Wa, Wa, Wachusett
Who doesn’t know the catchy jingle by now?
It’s that time of year when the Wachusett Mountain Ski Area in Princeton opens for the season. In fact, this year, Wachusett was the first mountain to open for skiing in the Northeast, a milestone Wachusett President Jeff Crowley attributes to his all-star snowmaking team.
Crowley, whose family operates the ski area, said he knows customers are extra excited to hit the slopes this year as recreational activities are limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s so rewarding to hear people thank you,’’ Crowley said. “They are so appreciative of the fact that we’re open. We went the extra mile to open early.’’
In a typical year, the property is more than a ski area hosting festivals, weddings, corporate events and more. And while the ski area may be going back to the basics this year by focusing on what it does best, the experience will undoubtedly be different.
“The ski business is not for the faint of heart — insurance, power, weather — and now you put the pandemic on top of that it’s that much more complicated,’’ Crowley said.
As an outdoor sport, Crowley knows there will be high demand for skiing and boarding this year. But they have to balance that demand with safety protocols to keep staff and customers safe.
Among the changes: new signage, capacity limits, booting up at vehicles, outside food service, base lodge use limits, and the addition of outdoor heaters and seating.
“It’s incumbent on all of us here, rangers, lift employees, ski patrol, to keep a watchful eye so everyone stays at a safe distance,’’ Crowley said. “People are just looking for recreation. The good thing is with our year of experience and our ability to deal with crowds, we feel confident.’’
Crowley said he and his brother, David, and sister, Carolyn, are carrying out the vision their father, Ralph Sr. had for the ski area. As kids, Crowley said his dad would take them skiing in northern New England, but it was a hike and not practical on a regular basis.
“He realized this is a jewel of Massachusetts,’’ he said. “His goal was to create high-quality recreation close to the metropolitan area.’’
Thanks to the advancement in grooming and snowmaking and investment in high-speed lifts, Wachusett now provides top-notch snow surface close to home. In fact, Wachusett ranked 9th in Ski magazine’s reader survey for Best Resorts in the East 2021.
In addition to providing a unique local ski and boarding experience, Crowley said his family’s passion and commitment to providing quality customer service, resonates with the public.
“The neat thing is that little Wachusett just cracked the top 10 ski areas in the East,’’ he said. “We were able to beat a lot of the big boys up north.’’
Wachusett Mountain Ski Area is located at 499 Mountain Road in Princeton. The ski area can be reached at 978.464.2300 and www.wachusett.com.