It is serendipitous that Thanksgiving and the start of ski season come at the same time. After long months of waiting for winter, skiers, snowboarders and snow lovers have much to be thankful for, as snow returns, lifts start spinning, and we reconnect with our skis – and our ski friends.

To sweeten the pot of thankfulness this weekend, several areas have special events planned to mark the opening of this, the season of sliding over sweet snow.

Bretton Woods celebrates homecoming through the weekend. The fun kicks off with a showing of Warren Miller’s 70th annual ski movie, “Timeless,” Friday night at the Bretton Woods base lodge. A $15 movie ticket (kids ages 4-12 are $5, and under 4 get in free) earns movie-goers a mid-week lift ticket good for a day on the slopes sometime this season.

The celebration continues at Bretton Woods Saturday, with the Welcome Back Barbecue on the Slopeside deck from noon until 2:30 p.m. The Annual Homecoming Brew Fest, featuring a slew of regional craft beers, kicks off at 2 and goes until 5 p.m. in the Slopeside Pub. Details are at

Gunstock – on its opening day this season – hosts its annual Black Friday Rail Jam, a friendly day-after-the-holiday competition for all ages and abilities. Registration runs from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., warm-up laps begin at noon, and the Jam kicks off at 1 p.m. More info is at

The opportunities to jib continue Saturday at both Loon Mountain and Wildcat. First up is the Abenaki Cans or Cash Jib Jam at Wildcat. Entry is a $3 cash donation or three non-perishable food items, which benefit the Gorham Food Pantry and will gain skiers and riders entry to the rail jam. The fun starts at 9 a.m. and goes to 3:30 p.m. Go to for more.

At Loon Mountain, the free-skiers and snowboarders come out after dark Saturday for the annual Cease and Desist Rail Jam. This under-the-lights event has become a favorite among jibbers, who will get to try their tricks on brand-new features in the Loon Mountain Park. The competition kicks off at 5:30 p.m. for skiers and 6:30 p.m. for snowboarders, complete with music from the DJ and cash prizes. More info is at

For thrill-seekers interested in helping a good cause – without throwing down tricks in the park – Saturday’s 7th Annual Cold Turkey Plunge might fit the bill. A fundraiser for the Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports Program, the Cold Turkey Plunge involves a jump into the very chilly Corcoran Pond. (Last year they had to cut a hole in the ice so plungers could reach the water. Brrrr!) The event is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., and costumes are encouraged.

The reward for this cold feat? Helping others – and a delicious cold turkey sandwich from the Coyote Grille. Turkey Plungers are required to raise a minimum of $50 in donations. Those who want to donate but don’t want to freeze their feathers off, can earn VP – Virtual Plunger – status with a donation of $50 or more. Visit for more information or to register.

Of course, if you just want to get out and take some runs, that’s fine. The weather for the weekend should be perfect for it. Sunapee, Pat’s Peak, Gunstock and Ragged Mountain join the list of open Alpine areas today (with Loon, Cannon, Bretton Woods, Waterville, Wildcat and Cranmore already there). Jackson XC, Bretton Woods Nordic, and Great Glen Trails also kick off the cross-country season Friday.

Winter Notes runs in the Union Leader on Fridays during ski season. Contact Meghan McCarthy McPhaul at