Skiing Santas ho-ho-hold court at ski resort's annual bash


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NEWRY, Maine (AP) — Santa Claus is known for shimmying down chimneys, but for one day a year, dozens of Santas try to avoid tumbling down a mountain.

The 18th annual Santa event took place at Sunday River ski resort in western Maine on Sunday. The event is highlighted by Santas skiing and snowboarding down the slopes to raise money for the Sunday River Community Fund, which benefits groups in the area.

One of the Santas was Yelena Walsh of Boston, a 50-year-old financial analyst who was once a professional skier in Russia. Walsh said the event is the highlight of her holiday season.

"In Russia, we didn't celebrate Christmas. We celebrated New Year," she said. "This is a very good and very festive way to start the ski season. It's an opportunity to dress up and act like a child."

The skiing Santas participate in full Kringle garb, including, of course, a white beard and red hat. The Santas must all donate a minimum of $15.

Online registration to participate filled up in 10 minutes, said Darcy Lambert, a spokeswoman for Sunday River.

The event has grown in popularity over the years, Lambert said, with 160 Santas raising $2,500 Sunday.

The event took place in the tiny western Maine town of Newry, about 80 miles northwest of Portland.

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