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West Bloomfield

Published February 5, 2014

With ice and snow, Winterfest is a go!

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West Bloomfield residents participate in a sled race during the 2011 Winterfest family event.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Braving the winter chill, the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission will throw its annual Winterfest at Marshbank Park 1-4 p.m. Feb. 8.

The last Winterfest event took place in 2011, and due to a lack of snow, Winterfest was canceled in 2012 and 2013. The commission estimated that about 1,200 patrons attended the 2011 Winterfest.

To avoid canceling this year’s Winterfest, the Parks and Recreation Commission has reformatted the event to allow Winterfest to run with or without snow, provided temperatures are below freezing.

“We all know how unpredictable Michigan winters can be. We have put some plans in place to alter the event, if needed,” Ted Davis, recreation superintendent for the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission, said in a press release. “This event is a great opportunity to get outdoors with the whole family and enjoy some free winter fun in our beautiful Marshbank Park.”

West Bloomfield residents are encouraged to venture into the snow and enjoy winter-themed activities. A day’s worth of events will be packed into three hours, including ice sculpture demonstrations, snowshoeing, family cardboard sled races, horse-drawn wagon rides, timed sled sprints, a family snowman building contest, sled dogs and meet-and-greets with reindeer.

The winter-themed family event also entails s’more roasting and frozen games, including frozen bowling, a frozen pie-eating contest and a mitten egg toss.

Some activities, like the snowman building and sled races, cannot be altered, according to Meagan Kurnat, public information coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Commission, but if the snow melts, attendees will still hear talks about dog sleds and meet the reindeer. Because the horse-drawn sled is on runners, Kurnat said she believes wheels can be put on the sled to run the ride on pavement.

As for the frozen games, the Parks and Recreation Commission will create ice the night before the event, if necessary.

Clinton Rich, an ice carving instructor at Oakland Community College, will be displaying an ice piggy bank and an ice throne that participants will be able to sit on and be photographed in. Rich will also demonstrate carving an ice polar bear from start to finish.

Using power tools, the ice polar bear, which is about 600 pounds of ice, will take him three hours to carve, Rich said.

“If the temperature is in the teens or 20s, I’ll bring a tent for the sun. But if it’s single digits, I won’t have to worry about the sun,” Rich said. “The sun is brutal, but when it’s cold enough, it doesn’t crack it (the ice) from the inside like usual.”

Rich has been carving ice for eight years and competed in 2006-07 as a student at OCC. He said he now teaches the program during the “cold time of the year.”

Unless the weather is unsafe, Winterfest will go on as planned. Though the Parks and Recreation Commission has not provided a specific degree that would be “too cold,” Davis said, “we will not sacrifice the safety of our participants under any circumstances.”

The Parks and Recreation Commission is still looking for volunteers for Winterfest. They are coordinating two- and four-hour shifts. To become a volunteer, contact Lauren Azoury, volunteer coordinator, at (248) 451-1917.

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