A tip of the cap to Bonner County history

Sandpoint Museum to parade world’s longest ski hat

By Soncirey Mitchell
Reader Staff

In honor of the 50th annual Winter Carnival — scheduled for Friday, Feb. 16-Sunday, Feb. 25 — the Bonner County Historical Museum will unveil the world’s longest ski hat at the Parade of Lights on Feb. 16. The colorful cap, made by Gini Woodward and Scott Hadley in the 1970s, has been a jewel in the museum’s collection since 1983.

The hat first appeared in the parade in 1977, and the pair initially created it as a fundraiser for the Greater Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce.

Courtesy photo.

“They advertised to the community that for $2 you could buy a foot-long section with a name or business knitted into it, or $5 for four one-foot repeats, with close to 550 advertising panels,” said museum Outreach Coordinator Olivia Fee. “Thanks to the knitting machine, Scott was able to design custom patterns for each panel of the hat that included text — even different fonts — that were simply programmed into the machine so it knew when to change colors. When Gini began knitting it, it only took about a week for the machine to knit all of the panels.”

In 2017, volunteers measured the hat at 617 feet long. Now the museum is looking for more than 100 helpers to parade the hat once more down the streets of Sandpoint.

“We’re sure some of the community members helping us carry it in the parade will be using it as a good luck charm to coax another big snowstorm!” said Fee.

The ski hat has only accumulated a few small spots — likely from being dropped in the snow — over nearly 50 years of parades and careful storage. Following a visit from museum assessors in 2023, workers decided that it’s time to look to the next 50 years of preservation.

“Although it has been unaffected by any real damage, we plan to make another advancement in our preservation technique to ensure this local treasure stays maintained and protected for years to come. It will involve gently rolling the hat onto a long acid-free tube with layers of muslin fabric, which will all be wrapped up in archival Tyvek to protect it from humidity,” said Fee.

Officials will demonstrate this preservation process at the Sandpoint Branch of the East Bonner County Library on Saturday, Feb. 24 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. To help hoist this local treasure in the parade, email [email protected].

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