The Star-Herald

78-year-old Mars Hill woman still ‘child at heart’ thanks to active snowtubing hobby

MARS HILL, Maine — On a sunny, clear afternoon March 2, Marcia Kilcollins cheered loudly as she sped down the snowtubing hill at Bigrock Ski Area in Mars Hill. Kilcollins is one of Bigrock’s most dedicated snowtubers and at 78 years old she has no plans to stop going every winter. 

“I come here every chance I get,” Kilcollins said, during a brief break from snowtubing. “In 2003 I went to New Denmark near Grand Falls with co-workers and we went snowtubing there. I loved it, but there was no [snowtubing] hill here at the time.”

Kilcollins has lived in Mars Hill since 1961 and for 25 years worked at Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital’s long-term care facility in town. Luckily for her, Bigrock added an 800-foot long snowtubing park three years ago and has continually redesigned the hill to make the rides more thrilling for people of all ages.

For the past two years Kilcollins has been a regular visitor to the snowtubing park. Though she has not been snowtubing as many times this winter season due to the record number of storms and cold weather, she recently began coming out again. Bigrock’s snowtubing hills are open every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

“I like the fresh air and I enjoy getting outdoors and mingling with people,” Kilcollins said. “This hill is longer than the one in New Denmark and I like that it’s bumpy in spots. The more bumps there are, the more I like it. It makes the ride more fun.”

Marcia Kilcollins speeds down the snowtubing hill at Bigrock Ski Area on Saturday, March 2. At 78 years old, Kilcollins is one of the most active snowtubers at Bigrock and has no plans to quit as long as she’s healthy. (Melissa Lizotte)

Seeing Kilcollins striding up the snowtubing hill for yet another ride down was no surprise to her daughter Daphne Walsh of Blaine. Walsh said that her mother remains active throughout the year whether she’s sliding at Bigrock in the winter or tending to her flower beds during the warm summer months.

In fact, though Kilcollins was afraid that she would become “bored” after retiring in her 70s, Walsh has seen the exact opposite happen. Snowtubing is one of the many ways in which Kilcollins spends time with the people she cares about and has fun.

“When I’m 78, I hope I have at least half the energy that my mother has,” Walsh said. “She’s quite the inspiration for us. She’s in her glory when she’s out here snowtubing.”

Kilcollins often brings family members to Bigrock and makes no qualms about heading down the hill long before her great-grandchildren and adult grandchildren can catch up. On Saturday her granddaughter Darcy Haines was jubilant as she slid to a stop at the bottom of the hill, where Kilcollins waited patiently.

“She didn’t wait for me,” Haines said, excitedly. “We were at the top and before I could go she said, ‘See ya,’ and took off.”

Bigrock general manager Travis Kearney said that Kilcollins has been such an active snowtuber that he and staff members recently gave her a lifetime snowtubing pass as a token of their appreciation.

“We have a program where seniors over age 75 ski for free and we realized last month that we’ve hadn’t done the same for snowtubers like Marcia,” Kearney said. “She’s an inspiration for us. She shows that anyone can still be active outside during the winter no matter how old they are.”

Kilcollins noted that she appreciates that Bigrock offers snowtubing to the community. As long as she’s still healthy, the snowtubing hills will continue to be one of her favorite spots throughout the long Aroostook County winters.

“I’m still a child at heart,” Kilcollins said. “I feel good and so as long as I’m still able to get out and about I’ll come every chance I get.”


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