Many skiers in familiar red suits hit the slopes during the 20th annual Santa Sunday at Sunday River in Newry.

With the sky a vivid blue and conditions close to perfect, the slopes greeted hundreds of Santa Claus impersonators who are regulars at the event and some who were getting their first taste of Santa Sunday.

“How can you beat this?” said Vin Marshall of Boston, who owns a condominium on the mountain and has been dressing up for the past four years with family and friends.  “This is one of the best days ever and it’s all for a good cause.”

Added Marshall as he pulled up his beard and buckled his boots, “And a free lift ticket for doing this is the cat’s meow.”

Karolyn Castaldo, director of communications for Sunday River, said Santa Sunday is special and important for many reasons.

“Santa Sunday not only spreads holiday cheer to those on the slopes but also helps to support the youth in our community,” Castaldo said. “With our contribution, and through their many fundraising efforts, the River Fund helps kids in our area to achieve success and growth through education and recreation.”

The 240 registered Santa Clauses raised $6,200 this year, far exceeding previous years.

The day included Eddy and Betty the Yetis, the mountain’s mascots, who moved about and gave high-fives before gathering the Santas for a group photo in front of the base lodge.

Participants then hopped onto a chairlift and headed up the mountain, so they could ski down together in a sea of red and white, with many offering a hearty “ho ho ho” as they slalomed down the mountain or when they came to a stop and collected their vouchers to be used toward a free lift ticket later in the season.

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