PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A new version of the winter carnival is set for Springside Park.
The Springside Conservancy is hosting an array of children's activities — from ice skating to sledding to snowshoeing — at the park on Saturday, Feb. 17, from noon until 4. The goal is to get families back into the park for a few hours of winter outdoor recreation.
"We want to bring the concept of families and kids being outdoors," said conservancy President Lisa Tully. "Our big thing is to just get families together at the park."
The Fire Department has agreed to create an ice skating rink near the pond at Springside Park and the conservancy plans to bring in propane heaters to create a warming station. The rink had been traditionally done at the Common but not since the renovation of that park.
"That will be the hub of the event," said Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath.
The conservancy is planning to have cardboard sledding races with prizes for the fastest or the best decorated sled. Tully said she's hoping to track down snowshoes for children to join in hikes. She has asked the Boys and Girls Club to bring ice skates. There will be hiking walks through the trails and bicycle events. She added she is working on an idea to have Wiffle ball at the Little League field.
And, of course, hot chocolate.
"We really want to bring attention to the park," Tully said.
Tully wanted to have a bonfire as well but fire inspectors said only one permit can be issued for events and the 10x10 Festival has routinely held one during that event — a little known restriction that surprised even the Parks Commission.
The annual Winter Carnival dated back to 1945 and was held in later years at the Controy Pavilion at Burbank Park. A volunteer Winter Carnival Committee each year planned out the well-loved event that featured a carnival queen, a ball, snowshoe and sledding races, golf on the ice, an ice fishing derby, snow sculpture contests, kite flying, and hay wagon rides. Early carnivals were held over several days, but over the years, the number of volunteers, sponsors, and participants shrank. In 2011, the group disbanded and that void hadn't really been filled since.
Tully said the event at Springside Park isn't an attempt to recreate that event, but it is based on a similar premise. She is even considering reaching out to the former Winter Carnival Committee members to see if they have any suggestions.
The Springside event will be free and is driven by Springside Conservancy volunteers who just "love" to host those types of things, she said.
This year's event evolved from the conservancy's fundraising and activities subcommittee. That group developed the idea of hosting a series of four events per year — one event per season. The winter event is not intended to be a fundraiser but instead just help drive the interest and momentum behind the park.
In the summer, the conservancy is planning out a fundraising event and had hosted a gala in the last two years. Tully said the group is looking to switch that up this coming year. There will also be events scheduled in the spring and fall.
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