Storm drops 2-4 inches of snow at Tahoe |

Storm drops 2-4 inches of snow at Tahoe

by Roseann Keegan

The Sierra-at-Tahoe folks praying for snow today at Murphy’s Irish Pub had better call a little louder if they’re hoping to kick start the ski season.

Only 2-4 inches of snow fell in the mountains above the Tahoe basin overnight Thursday.

Tahoe locals will be praying for more tonight at the annual Pray for Snow Party, which has been held since 1993. This year’s event starts at 7 p.m.

“It’s people putting their positive thoughts and energy into a good winter,” said John Rice, general manager for the resort.

The tradition was born the same year Sierra-at-Tahoe changed hands, dropping “ski ranch” from its name. Rice gathered a priest, a rabbi, a Presbyterian minister and an American Indian medicine man.

“It was a serious prayer; it was a prayer for snow,” Rice said.

Later, Rice and the resort’s marketing manager caught a hog calling contest on TV. They laughed and decided to create a contest where participants called for snow, instead of hogs.

“Over the years, we’ve had some really interesting entrants,” Rice said.

There was the man who played the harmonica while his dog howled. There was also the man in a Fred Flinstone-like fur tunic who let out a blood-curdling scream.

There was also Robert Lusk, known affectionately as “Preacher Bob.” The Novato resident was a season pass holder who showed up every year in a monk robe to bless the slope on opening and closing day and perform unofficial marriages (good for one day) on the mountain.

When he was younger, he would sleep overnight in the parking lot so he could be the first one into Huckleberry Canyon on a powder day.

Lusk died earlier this year of prostate cancer. Rice said he was well loved and will be missed.

“He was a crack up,” Rice said. “He was part of the fabric and color of the resort.”

Rice will appear as El Nino Grande, singing his own pray-for-snow ballad to the tune of a traditional mariachi song.

“It’s a lot of fun and a good chance to get out there pre-season, let it rip and have a good time,” Rice said. In the end, that’s really all anyone can do.

“There’s nothing we can do to change the weather except for yell at the clouds and tell it to come down,” he said.