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Got Olympic fever? Pokagon State Park toboggan run one cure

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Hours

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturdays, and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays through March 2. Special hours run on holidays and during the Christmas season including 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, which is Presidents Day.

Cost: Indiana residents pay a $5 day charge for park entrance; out-of-staters pay $7.

Note: Maximum of four people on toboggan. Toboggan run will close if the temperature reaches 0 degrees or below.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 12:01 am

Have you caught Olympic fever? Ever wondered what it would be like to try the Olympic bobsled course?

If you live in Indiana, and don't want to travel great distances the odds are you won't be riding a bobsled. Don't despair, you can easily hop on Interstate 69 and head up to Pokagon State Park near Angola. The park is the home of a chilled toboggan run, and although it is not quite the same as riding down a Russian mountainside it could be a close second.

From the Friday after Thanksgiving through February people can rent a toboggan for $12.84 an hour and go down the hill as many times as they like.

One a recent Saturday the several flights of stairs that lead to the top of the 30- foot tower were packed with people and toboggans, but the line moved ahead quickly as groups were loaded onto their padded sleds and sent down the hill. It was easy to tell when someone was on the track: their screams followed them down the hill. It takes about 30 seconds to reach the bottom of the run, which has a 90-foot vertical drop.

A speed gun near the base of the track records sledders' rides. On this particular day most people were running 30-35 mph by the time they got to the bottom. Standing near the track Saturday afternoon Fred Wooley, a park interpreter, said the toboggan run dates back to 1938 when the Civilian Conservation Corps had 556 boys builda wooden run with a 20 -foot high tower. Over the years the course has been improved. The tower was replaced with a 30-foot one. The track was later straightened, another lane added, and, starting in 1971, it became refrigerated. In 1984 it had a major overhaul. Wooley said it is one of only three refrigerated tracks in the Midwest.

“People come from states away to ride it,” Wooley said with a smile, as a screaming toboggan load of riders flew by.

Wooley said if you are worried about lines come on a Friday or Saturday evening. The crowds tend to drop off after 5 o'clock, but the lighted track will be open until 10 p.m. There is a warming house and a concession stand with a menu that includes hot chocolate and chili.

“We have over 90,000 visitors ride our toboggans run annually,” Wooley said.