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The annual Winter Blast Weekend has changed dates and layouts over the past decade or so, but one thing remains the same: it's an outdoor celebration of Michigan winter fun. 

This year, in addition to the free ice skating, ice sculptures, local entertainers, food trucks and more in Campus Martius, there's an opportunity for burgeoning snow bunnies to try out skiing and snowboarding. 

While not a new feature, the snow hill has a new sponsor for 2020. Mt. Brighton is a ski and snowboard resort that has been serving southeastern Michigan since 1960 just west of Brighton. The family-friendly facility has hills for beginning and experienced skiers as well as a lodge with two restaurants with bars. 

"As the local ski area to Metro Detroit we thought it was a really great opportunity to engage the community and get involved with something fun," said Heidi Swartzloff, marketing manager at Mt. Brighton Ski Area. "It's important to us to spread the love of winter activities and help get people outside during the winter months."

Swartzloff said Mt. Brighton's snow-making team started building a beginning-level ski hill Tuesday. Throughout the Winter Blast they'll have instructors on hand to help skiiers and snowboarders navigate the mound, which is expected to be about five feet tall.

She says it's a fun and no-commitment way to try the sport for free, without having to round up any of the equipment. 

"It's perfect for beginners, even people who have never put on a pair of skis before," she said, adding that anyone who would like to try the hill should be dressed for "winter weather," hat, gloves and a warm jacket. "We'll have everything else, ski boots, snow board boots and the skis and snowboards." 

Swartzloff said the free activity as it is set up at Winter Blast is appropriate for about ages five and older but at Mt. Brighton they do offer skiing lessons for even younger kids. 

While it was warmer earlier this week, this weekend is set to be OK temperatures for keeping the snow alive. Even if it did warm up, Swartzloff is confident Mt. Brighton's snow-making team can "work their magic." 

Other returning winter thrills at the free Winter Blast event are the 30-foot Winter Slide with a 40-degree angle, or 30-degree drop for the less adventurous. This attraction is $3. Zip line rides also require a fee of $10, and take zippers across 300 feet of line that is 34 feet in the air. 

The Polar Plunge will raise money for Special Olympics Michigan with chilly dips at 1 and 4 p.m. Sat. and 1 p.m. Sun. 

mbaetens@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @melodybaetens

Quicken Loans Winter Blast Weekend

5-11 p.m. Fri., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat. and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. 

Campus Martius

800 Woodward, Detroit

Free admission 

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