Stolen chairlift chair returned to Chester Bowl in Duluth
Sometime, perhaps in the dark of Sunday evening, Chair No. 12 came home. The forest green chair, one of 32 that dangle from the chairlift at the Chester Bowl ski hill, had been discovered missing from the park Thursday. Word quickly went out thro...
Sometime, perhaps in the dark of Sunday evening, Chair No. 12 came home.
The forest green chair, one of 32 that dangle from the chairlift at the Chester Bowl ski hill, had been discovered missing from the park Thursday. Word quickly went out through both conventional and social media of its mysterious disappearance.
By Monday morning, it was back. Thom Storm, executive director of the Chester Bowl Improvement Club, found the chair lying along a road near the park entrance.
"I thought there was a pretty good chance it would be returned," Storm said. "It was in a newspaper article and on all three (television) stations. It was blasted on Facebook and Twitter."
Chester Bowl is a popular downhill skiing area in the Chester Park neighborhood. Because the park's chairlift system, a hand-me-down from Spirit Mountain, was built in the 1970s, the manufacturer had said it would cost about $14,000 to retool the factory to build a replacement, Storm said.
But he never gave up hope it would find its way back.
His reaction, upon seeing the returned chair, was simple: "Grateful ... very grateful."
The chair had been returned in two pieces. The chair itself had been unbolted from the steel assembly that suspends it from the chairlift cable. But all of the bolts still were there.
The seat had been stolen sometime between Oct. 21 and 28, while it was lying on the ski hill awaiting repairs. It had been removed from the lift so that a park maintenance worker could replace a bushing -- a type of shaft. Storm said he figures that maybe some college students happened by, saw the chair on the ground, and thought it might look good in their house or dorm room.
"They probably thought they'd have some fun with it, but it got a lot of publicity," Storm said. "They got a little nervous and brought it back."
In the meantime, a Duluth family that wishes to remain nameless had offered to give Chester Bowl an identical lift chair that it had purchased from another ski resort. Storm was ready to take the family up on its offer Monday morning, until he found the returned chair.
He said the chair would be repaired and back on the lift this week. But until the repair is made, Storm knows exactly where the chair will be.
"I'm going to lock it in the garage," he said.