Weekly Feature



2018-01-24 / Front Page

Winterfest set for Olympic theme in 12th year

by ETHAN POWERS
Editor

A spirit of camaraderie and giving will fill the air of the Clarence Town Park this Sunday as Winterfest heads into its 12th year.

More than a decade ago, the Youth Bureau initiated the idea, with the help of the Clarence Chamber of Commerce, in order to create a winter-themed event for a town that had few planned gatherings when temperatures dropped.

“Winter, in this area, is always going to be a time in which we’re stuck in the house, but there’s a lot of people who love winter sports and getting outside,” said Dawn Kinney, executive director of the Youth Bureau. “We tried to come up with something that would keep people active in the winter and allow people to enjoy what we offer as a town.”

This year’s Winterfest will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at the town park.

Indoor and outdoor activities will be held, including sledding, ice skating, sled dog demonstrations presented by the Siberian Husky Club of Niagara Frontier, pony rides operated by Kelkenberg Farms, indoor entertainment featuring the North Ridge “Relive Star Wars Excitement” show, Mr. No the Balloon Guy and the Clarence High School Guitar Club, in addition to crafts, face painting, a bike raffle and food.

This year’s event will feature an Olympic celebration theme, given that the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, will be held next month.

In the spirit of the Winter Games, Norm Page, the father of Olympic sled hockey player Adam Page, will showcase his son’s medals, distribute signed photos and display Adam Page’s sled and hockey sticks.

Page is a four-time medalist of the International Paralympic Committee Sled Hockey World Championships and a four-time medalist of the IPC World Sled Hockey Challenge tournaments. He won his first gold medal at the age of 17, playing for Team USA at the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver, followed by another gold at the 2014 games in Sochi.

Kinney notes that the Youth Bureau has attempted to find a balance between indoor and outdoor activities for Winterfest through the years, due to the fluctuation in weather.

“We’ve had sub-zero wind chills; we’ve had 40s and rain,” she said. We always plan things so there’s always stuff to do, regardless of the weather.”

The first year Winterfest was held in 2006, the entire festival was conducted outdoors.

“It was a learning experience,” Kinney says, recalling the frigid temperatures that year.

Current forecasts for Sunday predict a high of 44 degrees with a low of 37, though Kinney is hopeful for some snow that will allow for ice skating and sledding.

Outside the Club House, the Clarence Fire Company will again sponsor a large bonfire where people can warm up and roast marshmallows. Inside, dozens of local nonprofit groups will be able to interact with the public and share information about what they do.

“We really wanted to make this event similar to Day in the Park in the way that it’s for service clubs and nonprofit groups to get their name out into the community and recruit members,” said Kinney. “They give so much to our community, so we like to showcase what they do.”

The ability to highlight the altruistic efforts of nonprofits within Clarence make the hours of preparation well worth it, says Kinney, who understands the importance of providing a family-friendly experience during the bleak winter months.

“It’s nice to see such synergy in bringing everyone together and to provide something in the midst of winter so people can get out and enjoy a day together with their families,” she said.

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Clarence Special Events 2018
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