A brief walk through the crowd revealed just how popular the park has become nationwide. In addition to the locals, many families residing outside of Pennsylvania made the long drive to the Shamokin area from their home states to relax and enjoy the park.
Maryland, New York, beyond
Active-duty military personnel, Rob and Eva Cowles, of Portland, Oregon, said they’d been living in Baltimore for the past four years and will soon be relocating to Colorado. Along with their dog, who was a back-seat passenger, they werelooking forward to getting out and doing some snow riding.
“We’re excited to be here today. This is the sixth time we’ve been here at AOAA. The park is a lot of fun because it’s so open and offers a great variety,” said Eva upon arriving at the park with her husband.
Eddie and Kim Noriega, of Middletown, New York, said it was their first time at the park and hoped they wouldn’t break anything on their 2009 Jeep Wrangler.
Shantel Thompson, of Baltimore, Maryland, said, “I lovehow an event like this brings people together and I look forward to having a good time today.”
Brian Simmons, of Abington, Maryland, was thankful to his employer, Adams Jeep in Maryland, for giving him the day off to come to the park and learn more about the performance and handling on an off-road course of the vehicles he sells to the public.
“Looking forward to doing a lot of photos and video along the way,” he added.
It was the second visit for Warren and Danielle Lambert, ofJim Thorpe, who had their 8-year-old son, Jonas, in the back seat.
“This is the second time we’ve been here. Last year we traded in our RAV4 for a new Jeep and here we are back again today,” said Danielle, smiling.
Groups take part
In addition to individual families and friends, there were also many different off-road groups represented at the snow ride event.
Jason Markowitz, of Montclair, New Jersey, said he’s affiliated with four different off-road groups: Outcast Krawlers, North Jersey Jeep Club, Long Island Beach Buggy Association and MontaukSurfcasters Association.
“This is my fourth time here guiding for the snow event. I’ll have 20 vehicles and 40 people attending from my groups today. I want to thank Dave Porzi and the AOAA for allowing me to participate as a guide for this event. I’ve been coming here to the park since the first trail cuttings back in 2012,” said Markowitz.
The HI-LO 4×4 Off-Roaders from Long Island, New York, took time out to pose for a group picture with a large American flag attached tothe back of one of their vehicles serving as a backdrop.
AOAA authority board member Barry Yorwarth spoke of the unique and constantly changing nature of the park that varies with the weather.
“Everything about this place changes with the elements. Today we have the snow and ice early, with rain predicted for this afternoon. There are so many variables within the park itself, and then you factor in the weather. Our riders love the fact that every visit to AOAA is a unique one andthey live for this,” he said.
Several riders made an attempt to tackle the rugged, snowy hill climb located along the pole line near the AOAA parking lot, while others preferred a less daring route. In any case, Saturday’s course featured a challenging range of snow-covered trails, hills and frozen pools of water.
“The cost of this winter event is our standard price of $30 per rider for an all-day pass ($25 for Northumberland County residents). The AOAA park will be open from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. today and this is not a closed event, meaning that other riders not affiliated with the Snow Ride are also welcome. Our facility always remains open to everyone, even during special events such as this one unless otherwise specified,” said Porzi, AOAA director of operations.
Porzi also noted that the AOAA is scheduled to host the national Ultra4 Series off-road race event on April 12 through 15, named “Showdown in Shamokin,” which will be covered nationally by NBC Sports.
“These are exciting times for the AOAA. We’re truly blessed that our current group of riders keep coming back,” he said.