GATLINBURG - Update on Friday, Dec. 16: Ober Gatlinburg's ski and snowboard slopes open Friday.
The ski area posted photos of machines and crews making snow to its Facebook page on Thursday night.
Ober Gatlinburg's aerial tramway opened Monday for the first time since the massive wildfires in Sevier County.
Update, Monday, Dec. 12: Ober Gatlinburg's iconic aerial tramway reopened Monday morning for the first time since devastating fires hit Sevier County.
Ober announced the tramway reopening on its Facebook page, saying the attraction had been cleared for use by "several engineers."
"Engineers from Switzerland inspected the cable towers and electrical controls for the tram have been certified and in good condition to operate. The state of Tennessee has also inspected and released the Aerial Tramway to operate with no restrictions," the post said.
The first tram took several employees up around 9:40 a.m. Monday.
Snow tubing also opens on Monday. Ober's ski and snowboard slopes open for the season on Friday, Dec. 16.
Update on Dec. 8: Ober Gatlinburg will reopen in two phases starting on Friday after massive Sevier County wildfires.
Ober Gatlinburg's Downtown Tramway Mall will be open from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday. The opening includes the Ski Mountain Grind Haus Coffee Shop, LeConte Deli, Tramway Gifts, Mountaineer Candy Kitchen, Silver Galleon, Miss Saddie's Old time Photos, Spa to Go and the Green River Gallery.
On Monday, Ober Gatlinburg's mountain location will reopen with regular operating hours to drive-up traffic only. Indoor activities opening Monday include the ice rink, carousel, Seasons of Ober Restaurant, the Loft Lounge, Sidewalk Café, the Market, the Fudge Shoppe, Ober Snack Bar, Ski Mountain Sports, Slopeside Apparel and Gifts, O’Bear’s Playhouse, the Galleria Logo Shop, Family Crests, Jensen Images and the Leather Shop.
The aerial tramway will remain closed until inspections are completed. A cable specialist arrived Wednesday to inspect the cables that move the Tramway.
A representative from Doppelmayr will inspect the Tramway towers. An electronics engineer from Swiss-based company Frey AG Stans will inspect the electronics in the Aerial Tramway control room.
The state of Tennessee will complete the final inspection on the Tramway.
Original Story on Dec. 4: Ober Gatlinburg facilities "remain intact without any direct fire damage," according to the company's website.
A photo saying “We are still here, standing strong with Gatlinburg” is on Ober Gatlinburg’s Facebook page.
Kate Barido, Sales and Marketing Director at Ober Gatlinburg, explained they will be ready to open after a thorough inspection, general clean-up, and once utilities are reestablished.
"Towers 2 and 3 will need to be inspected by the state and company that built it. Teams will inspect everything about the tram to make sure it is safe to operate again," Barido said.
At this time, Ober Gatlinburg is unsure of its exact reopening date. The City of Gatlinburg said Monday they plan to reopen for busienss and to the general public on Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 a.m.
"Right now, we have two work crews at Ober: downtown Gatlinburg and the mountains. They are cleaning up after smoke and wind damage," Barido explained.
There are more than 100 employees who have been displaced from their homes. Ober Gatlinburg is working to find them places to live and assist them with their many needs. Ober Gatlinburg employs about 300 people.
"We’ve been trying to contact each one of them to get an update on their situation. It’s been unprecedented, what we are learning about, how to handle everyone. Some people lost everything," said Barido. "We are grateful for Holiday Inn and River Bend hotels in Pigeon Forge for taking in our employees."
Before the wildfire spread Monday, Ober Gatlinburg teams moved animals in their Wildlife Encounter to a safe facility on property to protect them from harm.
"They remained safe through the night. Our Wildlife curator has been feeding and caring for the animals since Tuesday morning, thanks to assistance of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency," according to Ober's website.
17 people stayed at Ober Gatlinburg Monday night during the wildfire.
“They actually fled up to the mountain. They stayed inside the parking lot in their cars. Then, moved to the mall to find shelter,” Barido said.
No one was hurt and everyone escaped safely.
As for visitors with unused snow tubing tickets, there are three options:
1) Donate the total of your tubing ticket purchase directly to our Employee Relief Fund.
2) Reschedule your tubing session.
3) Apply for a refund at firstname.lastname@example.org
Updates will be posted here: http://obergatlinburg.com/wildfire-information/
"The generosity of our community has been overwhelming and we appreciate your prayers and support very much. Any funds raised will directly support Ober Gatlinburg employees and their families," according to the company's website.
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