Skating, Sledding, Snowshoeing and More: All a Part of Winter Carnival

Two locations play host to outdoor family fun on Feb. 7

By Alison Rooney

In what both describe as a “natural synergy,” the Philipstown Recreation Department (PRD), the Friends of Philipstown Recreation (FOPR — the nonprofit, fundraising arm of Philipstown Recreation) and the Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) are again joining forces to host the sophomore edition of their Winter Carnival. Those forces include many community volunteers and a swath of local businesses, all aiming to give the community a signature winter event and to bring some frozen fun to February.

This year’s festivities, all free of charge, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 7, and have been joined by associated activities on First Friday in Cold Spring, from 4 to 7 p.m. the day before.

Winter Hill shows how it got its name: a sledder headed downhill at last year's Winter Carnival.

Winter Hill shows how it got its name: a sledder headed downhill at last year’s Winter Carnival.

Hoping that Mother Nature cooperates, bringing just enough — but not too much — frozen white stuff, hundreds of Philipstowners of all ages are expected to partake of ice-skating — complete with a DJ on hand, taking musical suggestions from the young skaters — sledding, snowshoeing demonstrations from Beacon’s Mountain Tops Outfitters, snow golf, ice sculpting and more, with a complement of indoor activities for when the fingers become too frosty and the cheeks too flushed.

As at last year’s carnival, there will be two locations, both located in Garrison: Winter Hill, 20 Nazareth Way, and the Rec Center, 107 Glenclyffe Drive, each going strong from noon to 4 p.m. Rec will then remain open, shifting indoors, with craft activities, a raffle draw at 4:30 p.m. and a family film screening at 5 p.m. (See below for full details.)

In addition, for the youngest attendees, who may not have the outdoor stamina of their older siblings, Stacy Labriola will lead a sing-along just for them in the Winter Hill Library. Food and hot beverages from B & L and Go-Go Pops will be available for purchase at both locations — all else is completely free.

Born of an idea (whose exact origins are now vague) to help the local business community out in winter by generating more tourism during the colder-weather months, and a desire by all of the organizations to get more people involved in winter’s outdoor recreational activities, pulling all of this together has been “like a ’30s Andy Hardy movie,” said HHLT Director of Outreach MJ Martin. Much was learned during the first go-round; PRD’s John Maasik called last year’s effort “baby steps which we’re building up on this year and will do so again next year.”

An eagle is sculpted from ice at last year's Winter Carnival. This year ice scupting will take place both at Winter Hill and on Main Street in Cold Spring.  

An eagle is sculpted from ice at last year’s Winter Carnival. This year ice scupting will take place both at Winter Hill and on Main Street in Cold Spring.

The goal throughout has been, according to Martin, to “introduce people to winter here; it can be as inviting as our spring, summer and fall, which everybody already loves.” Maasik added: “Once the ice rink went up and HHLT moved to Winter Hill, that started things. Getting the rink in was a big part of the draw and the sledding hill is a natural.”

Also instrumental were the experiences of Rec’s newly elected chair, (taking over from Maasik, who remains on the board) Joel Conybear. “Joel’s been really great — whenever we’ve had doubts, he’s had the experience to tell us we could do it,” Martin said. The links among the local entities have been ongoing for some time now.

“We’ve been collaborating with Rec for many years, including running the Family Festival. When we determined that the Family Festival had run its natural life, John and Joel came in and had tons of great ideas,” said Martin, who noted that “part of HHLT’s local conservation mission is a community element: getting people to experience recreational activities outdoors. Rec understands the value to and for the community, and the Rec Center reaches families. It’s great to have both Friends of Philipstown Recreation and the Rec Center as partners because they have so many ties within the community — it’s really made all this possible. This opens both of our arms very wide and embraces the concept of how important this is to this community in particular.”

The connecting of local organizations extends this year to the Cold Spring Film Society, which is joining in for the first time, screening the family film Labyrinth at the end of the busy day inside the gym at the Rec Center.

Among the youngest to take to the ice at last year's Winter Carnival

Among the youngest to take to the ice at last year’s Winter Carnival

With the popularity of last year’s event, which attracted over 200 people divided between the two sites, there has been much strategizing about making sure there is ample parking and frequent shuttle service between the locations. This year Garrison Free Union School has opened its lot up to overflow carnival-goers unable to park at the other sites, and people may park at any of the three locations and be shuttled among them throughout the day.

Once the infrastructure is tested out for another year, the organizers will have a better sense of how much to promote the carnival beyond the boundaries of Philipstown, which is a long-term goal. They want to make sure that growth is incremental, however, and that things run smoothly.

Many local businesses will have special offerings on First Friday, the night before the carnival.

Along with Coneybear, Maasik and Martin, the other Winter Carnival Planning Committee members are Kathy Hamel (HHLT), Claudio Marzollo (FOPR) and Amber Stickle (PRD).

Volunteers are eagerly sought for both beforehand and, in particular, the day of the event. If there happens to be a snowfall the night before, many hands will be needed to clear off the ice rink, which does not have a Zamboni ice resurfacer. Only a major snowstorm will postpone the event.

For a full list of activities and timings, see below or visit hhlt.org or philipstownrecreation.com.

Winter Carnival Activities

Event starts at noon with food and hot beverages at both locations

At Winter Hill

Noon – 4: Sledding, snow golf, nature hikes and warming stations

Noon – 2: Ice-carving demonstration by Bill Bywater

2:30: Sing-along by the fireplace with Stacy Labriola

3:30: Snow kayaking demonstration on Winter Hill

Winter Hill site closes at 4 p.m.

At Philipstown Recreation Center

Noon – 4: Ice-skating, snowshoeing demonstrations and warming stations

1:30 – 3:30: Children’s crafts

4:30: Raffle drawing at skating rink of products donated by local businesses

5:15: Cold Spring Film Society presents Jim Henson’s Labyrinth (inside the
Rec Center)

Photos by Christine Ashburn


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