Copper Mountain Resort is set to go all out Monday for Christmas Eve with its popular En Fuego celebration, which includes a rail session, torchlight parade down the mountain, Santa Claus zip lining across the lake, bonfires and, new this year, a glow light parade for the little ones. The rail session kicks off the festivities at 4 p.m., with registration from 3-4 p.m. at Woodward at Copper's Cage facility. Taking place in Lower Bouncer Park, the rail session is free and open to all levels of skiers and riders as long as they register beforehand and wear a helmet. It's not a competition, but there will be prizes and swag giveaways.Next up is the glow light kids' parade, new this year, in the Easy Rider Learning Area next to the base of the American Eagle lift. To participate, children need to meet at Pizza Carlo at 5:45 p.m. and the parade starts at 6. Then at 6:15 p.m. the torchlight parade starts, featuring approximately 50 members of Copper's Ski and Ride School sliding down the mountain on Main Vein in the dark, each carrying two flares and following one behind the other so that viewers at the base see a long, curving snake of lights. For some instructors, it'll be their first time skiing or snowboarding in the dark. "It's a blast," said Don Coleman, adult programs manager for Copper Ski and Ride. "We take it easy at first for people who haven't been on a torchlight parade or skied at night before. It takes a few turns to get the sensation down. ... After four or six turns, everybody gets the hang of it and away they go."Although the downhill part is fun, Coleman said one of the biggest thrills is riding the high-speed quad at night. "The lights of the Village quickly slip away, and on a clear night you're up there, looking at the stars, flying along on the chairlift and then, boom, you're at the top, in another world. It's a fabulous experience for all the employees who get to do it. Really it's a great team-building experience."The parade down the hill lasts about 15 minutes, although Coleman said it feels longer. "The interesting thing about it is when we get over the last pitch and start coming down toward the Village, you can hear a dull roar from kids shouting and cheering. Halfway down that last pitch you know it's the coolest thing in the world because it's making a whole lot of people very excited. The kids just go nuts. It's a beautiful event." In addition to ski and snowboard instructors, Santa Claus himself will slide down the hill in the torchlight parade. At the bottom, he'll light the Christmas tree in Burning Stones Plaza before hopping on the new Alpine Rush Zip Line and taking off across West Lake and presumably on to the North Pole to handle his holiday preparations.
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