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Expansion Plans For Great Bear Park

December 9, 2013, 10:04 PM by Don Jorgensen

Expansion Plans For Great Bear Park
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

Could Great Bear be even greater? There's a master plan that will be presented to the Sioux Falls Park Board later this month to make major renovations to the outdoor recreational hill.

What goes up, must come down and at the Great Bear Recreation Park that sometimes means down pretty hard.

"Last year I broke my nose, broke my goggles, busted up my helmet, that was a nasty spill, but I learned a lesson after that," 17-year-old Justin Pabst said.

But things are looking up at Great Bear.

"Pretty nice today, a lot of powder, a lot of fresh snow, better than man made snow," 13-year-old Jackson Hayes said.

The park has made some improvements over the years, but manager Dan Grider says the park needs more.

"As the years have gone by and the community has grown, we've become successful, we just started to outgrow the area," Grider said.

Grider says the park needs more room to handle the influx of snowboarders and skiers and other outside guests. So, they have come up with a master plan to expand.

"We are going to add onto the chalet, hope to do that and present a plan. We'd like to expand the tubing facility. Eventually like to provide a little more efficient way to get up the ski hill, maybe a new lift," Grider said.

But that'll take money and the approval of the city.

"When I first came to the area in 1992, we were doing 10,000 to 12,000 visits a year," Grider said.

Now that number has swollen to nearly 50,000. And that number is just the snow enthusiasts.

"We do a lot of banquets, reunions, weddings, wedding receptions. We've got a wonderful hiking trail out here. The park is now a 12-month park," Grider said.

But between December and March, there's no business, like snow business.

"We've got a great program to teach kids how to ski and snowboard and then we keep things fresh for them so it gives them an incentive to come back to enjoy it," Grider said.

That's something these cold winter crazies already know.

"It's one of the most fun things I've ever done, always do it every year, never quit," Hayes said.

"Once you get it and do it and love it, it's your passion" Pabst said.

"Skiing and snowboarding is really a family event and places like Great Bear might seem small, but this is where you learn that sport and you can take this sport with you the rest of your life," Grider said.

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