A ‘local dignitary’: The Mayor of Mary Jane preps for his 40th season at Winter Park Resort
Ski resorts are known for their eclectic mix of characters and Winter Park is no exception but amongst the various rogues, ramblers and plain ole bums that populate the slopes of the Fraser Valley one man stands out from the crowd; Dave Turner is something of a fixture in our local ski scene, though you may known him by his more popular moniker, the Mayor of Mary Jane.
If you cruise up to the Jane’s C-Lot on a weekday after Mother Nature has dropped a few inches of fresh powder odds are you will eventually catch sight of the Mayor. It is hard to miss him on the mountain, even when he is not wearing his special mayor’s outfit – a suit, “mayor’s” sash, and comically large top hat combination vaguely reminiscent of the Mad Hatter from “Alice in Wonderland.”
The 65-year-old Turner is a gregarious and laid back character with more than a touch of counter-cultural nonconformity – he is Easy Rider meets Warren Miller. But don’t let his age or eccentricities fool you, the Mayor can outride most folks on the mountain, especially if you go playing in the trees and he is fairly famous on the local ski scene.
“The Mayor is the embodiment of the spirit of Mare Jane and his passion is downright infectious,” Steve Hurlbert, Winter Park Resort spokesman, stated. “His enthusiasm creates a lot of smiles and I know many guests find their ski day at Mary Jane incomplete without seeing ‘the Mayor’.”
Turner demurred about his near celebrity status at Winter Park Resort and put everything in context of his deep love of skiing.
“I never get tired of this,” the Mayor said in reference to skiing. “The next ski day is always the greatest day of your life. The people I meet are awesome. You find friends that have that little gleam in their eye. If you have it you know what it is, and once you have it, it is like being a little kid again.”
Originally from California the Mayor’s father was in the Air Force and he spent several years crisscrossing the country with his family. He started skiing before he was five years old and was taking his first turns at Winter Park Resort in the 1960s while his family briefly lived in Boulder.
After graduating from college in the Washington D.C. area Turner and his then newly minted wife moved to Boulder in 1978. The couple had visited Winter Park Resort the year before, hitting Mary Jane for the first time after the newly opened territory was featured in Powder Magazine. Turner remembered his earlier experiences at Winter Park as a child and decided to check out the new digs.
“We were like, ‘whoa’, this place rocks!” Turner said. “We’ve been skiing it ever since. About 40 years straight now.”
Over the last four decades the Mayor has watched as his beloved Winter Park Resort has transformed from a relatively small ski area with only T-bar lifts to the expansive mountain it is today.
“I have seen it change a lot since I was a kid,” he said. “From T-bars to the first chair lifts. I watched the Jane grow from the old days riding the Iron Horse to when they opened the backside and opened up the (Parseen) Bowl. It has been wonderful watching the changes.”
These days the Mayor spends as much time as possible riding in the Eagle Wind territory, which he affectionately refers to as his “happy place”.
“When I ride I go to the Jane, but I keep a watch on the Pano and Eagle Wind. As soon as they open Eagle Wind I go there until they kick me out.”
Turner bestowed the title of Mayor upon himself nearly a decade ago as a gag in hopes of getting a good parking spot in the Jane’s C-Lot but what started out as a tounge-in-cheek jokes has since taken on a life of its own.
“I gave it to myself,” he said with a laugh. “We had been hanging out in the C-Lot partying and I said I wonder if I could get a better parking spot if I told people I’m the Mayor. I got little stickers printed up and had the sash made. It turned out to be a wild hit. I had no idea it would turn into what it has become.”
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