Ski area struggles after broken snow groomer

7:37 PM, Dec 26, 2013   |    comments
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File photo: Grand Haven's Mulligan's Hollow

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WZZM) -- A popular Grand Haven ski area is struggling to stay open, after an expensive maintenance vehicle literally began falling apart. Mulligan's Hollow needs tens of thousands of dollars to buy a new groomer and even little kids are stepping up to help.

A day after Christmas at Mulligan's Hollow, something may have been a little too big to make Santa's list.

"I sat down next to my four year old at church, and he looked at me and said 'Mommy, I decided I want something new for Christmas, I just want Santa to give us a groomer'," says Theresa Sispera, manager of Mulligan's Hollow.

However, the new grooming machine never came.  The ski area still only has the old one and just before winter break it began falling apart piece by piece, starting with the tiller.

"That's what softens up the snow, breaks up the ice," says Sispera. "Once we got that repaired we took it out for a test run and a hydraulic hose blew, the breaking system wasn't working safely, then a tire came off."

The repairs totaled more than $15,000.

"We were fixing it and fixing it and then it got really expensive, we've already blown our whole year's budget on repairs," says Sispera.

The groomer not only makes the snow better for skiing, but Sispera says it also helps prevent injuries.

In fact, the ski area was forced to close after last week's ice storm, because there was no way to soften the ground.

"I was disappointed, because my boys really wanted to come out here," says skier Joanna Wessel.

"We had to stay closed until we got natural snow," says Sispera.

Now, the ski area is hoping to raise $180,000 for a new groomer. Maggie Bandstra and her son John have already done their part.

"He gave part of his allowance and then I matched it," says Bandstra.

"The only thing I ever do in the winter is ski, so I just decided to donate some money for the new groomer," says John Bandstra.

The manager of Mulligan's Hollow says they're now using the groomer sparingly, because of its poor condition.

 If you'd like to help pay for a new groomer, you can donate at the Mulligan's Hollow Website.

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