The skies were gray and sleet was falling, but skiers and snowboarders were all smiles and full of excitement during the Dec. 20 opening of the Mt. Shasta Ski Park.

“We’re excited and happy to be open. It’s been a long time coming,” said general manager Jason Young, whose father is co-owner Chuck Young. “We’re happy for the community and the business opening the Park will bring back. The Ski Park family is not just us. It’s the interaction between us and the community. We’re all part of the family.”

The severe drought that affected California and the nation last year prevented the Park from opening.

For Saturday’s 2014-2015 season-opener, the Park had enough snow to operate all three lifts and 15 groomed runs.

The Park offers skiing, snowboarding, guided backcountry riding, a dedicated tubing area, terrain park, learning center, rental shop, sport shop, night skiing, food venues and a full service bar with a lounge that features local musicians.

With three lifts servicing 32 runs and a terrain park, the Park offers beginner to advanced runs.

Chuck Young echoed his son’s sentiments.

“The staff have been working hard to put together a great season and bring the Ski Park family back together,” Chuck said.

Jason said the Park can operate 19 snow-making guns, half of them movable, to make snow for 60 percent of the Park’s trails.

He said Monday morning that conditions look good for starting snow-making operations soon.

Jason, who started skiing at the Park when it opened in 1985, said the Park takes pride in being a family friendly resort.

He said one of most important improvements during the off-season was replacing the tow rope, often a beginner’s first skiing experience, with a 300 foot magic carpet that acts as a moving sidewalk. The magic carpet also services the dedicated tubing area.

“The tow rope is one of the most difficult things for beginners to do,” Jason said.

Additional improvements include a dedicated tubing area and expanding and leveling the back deck; a fire pit and more seating were added.

The kids learning area was upgraded, and the top of the Coyote lift reworked to ease off-loading. The Park also maintains an extensive recycling program.

An Android app for the Park is also in the works.

“We’re going to have the best social media of any ski park,” marketing manager Michael Smith said in a recent interview. “We have an app for Android and Apple that accesses Facebook, Twitter and our website from a single portal. The app includes information for local businesses in Mount Shasta, Dunsmuir, McCloud and Weed.”

Co-owner Andy Aguilera traditionally takes the first run of the season before the lifts open and this year was no exception.

“It’s a great day. We’ve been looking forward to this for quite a while,” Aguilera said with a wide smile. “It’s been tough on everyone. We’re partners with the community and it’s great to see the Park open.”

The Park has numerous events including local team ski races, Rail Jam, Big Air, special charity and memorial races, backcountry race and a Pond Skim.

The Mt. Shasta Ski Park is located on Highway 89 between the towns of McCloud and Mount Shasta. For more information visit www.skipark.com.