Ever wonder what people do in the winter in Maine? Some people think we hibernate like bears in warm dens sleeping away day and night until spring comes back. Actually, we do get out every now and then, and we make a day of it, inviting all our friends from here and away. You may even see a wicked good crowd.
Away can be the next town over, another state or even foreign countries. Take for instance the National Toboggan Championships where teams from as far away as the Netherlands were here over the weekend to compete in the 2-person, 3-person and 4-person toboggan races.
It sounds official and there are rules, but anyone can enter a team and run the chute for the 9 second or better thrill of dropping from the top of the hill and racing to the finish line that empties out onto frozen Hosmer Pond. All you need is to meet the muster of the official toboggan regulations with a wooden toboggan built of slats, a pad and a curve; no fiberglass, carbon fiber or other synthetic fibers. And the competition does come with strict warnings ... "clothing may be ripped or melted" ... melted? I don't know how that happens when it is usually about 20 degrees outside, but I'll leave that to the chute masters.
About 400 teams show up the first weekend in February at the Camden Snow Bowl to compete for the fastest time down the chute and best costume. Best costume is, as or more competitive than the races. One thing you can count on is that almost every team is going to compete for the best costume award. Be on the lookout for whole teams dressed as superheros, cows, bridezillas, team mascots and ballerinas. As Forrest Gump would say, it is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.
Although Camden is only a small town with a population pushing 5,000, competitors for the National Toboggan Championships come from all over the world, but mostly you see license plates from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Pennsylvania.
The first toboggan chute was built at the Camden Snow Bowl in 1936 and rebuilt in 1991, when the first toboggan championship was held. This year marked the 20th anniversary of the event.
If you are looking to go, watch, or even enter to compete for next year's races, check out the official rules at the Camden Snow Bowl.