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Minocqua Winter Park encourages exploration and social distancing

April 17, 2020 by Delaney FitzPatrick

As schools, restaurants and other businesses began to close around the country due to concerns of the coronavirus, Minocqua Winter Park director Christie Terkelson and her staff knew it was only a matter of time before they would need to close the park’s chalet.

Then on March 16, Governor Tony Evers made an official announcement that banned mass gatherings of over 50 people. 

With the trail system still in good condition, Terkelson and her staff brainstormed ways in which they could close the chalet, but keep the park open for skiers, snowshoers and hikers as they practiced social distancing.

“It was pretty much decided that since we did have adequate snow coverage and still really great trails and groomers that were still willing to help, that it made sense to encourage outdoor activity,” Terkelson said.

A solution was found: a donation box.

She knew just who to call on such late notice.


Ron Capacio got the call from Terkelson that same day.

“She needed it right away because they were going to close the building down, but they were going to leave the gates open,” Capacio said.

Over the past few years, Capacio has donated his time and woodworking skills to Minocqua Winter Park. His projects have included a “Sniffle Station,” which holds tissues that skiers can grab before they head into the chalet, a sign on the fork at Squirrel Lake Road, and a new bench for the men’s bathroom. 

“Ron has kind of been our go-to guy for small woodworking projects over the past few years,” Terkelson explained. 

After he received Terkelson’s call, Capacio said he went straight to work on the donation box. In his garage, he found a few pieces of chipboard wood that had been left over from a previous project.

“He was literally out within maybe three, maybe four hours and then we put some signage on it and mounted it to the outside of the chalet,” Terkelson said. “It was awesome.”

Positive response

The chalet closed on March 17, and an announcement was made about the donation box on the Minocqua Winter Park Facebook page.

Terkelson said the response has been great.

“People have been really generous, very — in my opinion — very honest about making donations for trail use,” she said. “It’s great to see people pitching in in such uncertain times.”

The park director said she even had an individual reach out to ask if he could make a donation through his credit card instead of cash.

“Without a lot of those donations, it would make grooming close to impossible,” Terkelson said, emphasizing that the ability to keep the park open has been a team effort, thanks to volunteers like Capacio. 

“I just think Ron is one of many volunteers at the park who are so quick to step in in a time of need and I think it just shows how passionate people are and what a resource Winter Park is for our community,” she said.

Capacio said he’s been out skiing a few times in the last few weeks. 

“Whenever I go there skiing, people thank me for building it, so it’s kind of nice, but that’s what I do — whatever I can do to help out at Winter Park,” he said. “I’m not a real skilled builder, but I can build things.”

Following the chalet closure, grooming continued into the beginning of last week. As temperatures continue to rise, Terkelson is unsure how much longer the park will stay open. 

“We can’t make any guarantees on how much more grooming will be done, but in the meantime, people are still welcome to come out and explore,” she said.

To make a donation to Minocqua Winter Park, email [email protected]ocquawinterpark.org or visit minocquawinterpark.org/wish-list.

Delaney FitzPatrick may be reached via email at [email protected]

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