For desert rats, short Valley winters are welcome novelties — excuses to light little-used fireplaces and wear closed-toe shoes.
But in Arizona’s high country, weeks of wind that cuts like icy needles and even that powdery white stuff can get a little old.
"We have to beat the winter ‘blahs’ up here," said Joyce Taylor, chairwoman of the Assistance League of Flagstaff. The town will do just that with its 11th annual Snowball Slide, kicking off noon Sunday on Leroux Street.
During the event, nearly 2,000 numbered whiteplastic "snowballs" are spun in a concrete mixer, then released for a rollicking journey down a 300-footlong slide. The first 21 balls to make it into "The Terminator," a tube -and-net catch-all at the bottom of the hill, garner hefty prizes for their owners.
"The first ball that goes in wins $2,000," Taylor said. Others are worth prize packages at resorts, restaurants, sporting events and businesses.
Snowballs are sold until 10 minutes before the slide, which begins at 1 p.m. Rates are $10 per ball; three balls for $25; or 14 balls for $100. Proceeds benefit the league’s philanthropic work.
Winners need not be present to win, but Taylor says that being there is all the fun. Everyone helps to hold up the sides of the flexible slide, affording an up-close view of the balls on their journey downhill. Spectators are also encouraged to bring brooms to help knock sluggish balls back into the race.
Cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate will be sold, and clowns and other entertainers will provide fun.
For more information, call (928) 779-3029.
Flagstaff is about 2 1 /2 hours north of Phoenix. Take Interstate 17 north about 160 miles. The interstate turns into Milton Road in Flagstaff. Stay on Milton until you come to Leroux Street, across from the train station. Turn left on Leroux and follow it to Cherry Avenue. The streets will be closed for the snowball slide; festivities are just beyond the barricades.