WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — If you own a shovel, you may not be too excited about the prospect of a midweek snowstorm next week, but there are a group of volunteers in the Village Beautiful who definitely wouldn't mind a white Valentine's Day.
The inaugural February Freeze is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Spruces park on Main Street (Route 2).
The Friends of Linear Park and the former executive director of the Williamstown Rural Land Foundation have teamed up to plan an event focused on family fun, the park's natural beauty and, they hope, seasonable weather.
"The only thing that is most weather dependent is we'll have to wait until the last minute to decide what type of race it will be," Amy Jeschawitz of Friends of Linear Park said of the planned 5-kilometer fun run, walk, ski or snowshoe. "Ideally, it would be fun if we have snow to have cross country skiing or snowshoeing. Or people can walk it. It's just a fun sort of thing.
"Either way, we're going to have it, snow or no snow."
And if the temperatures cooperate, organizers also hope to have a team snow sculpture competition.
"We've arranged with [the town's] DPW that if we have snow, they'll pile it up the week before so teams can do snow sculptures," Jeschawitz said.
But even if a thaw comes, the Freeze will go on.
The event will include a scavenger hunt, tractor-drawn wagon rides and a nature walk led by WRLF Executive Director David McGowan. There will be hot chocolate courtesy of Williams College, s'mores in a fire pit and food available for purchase prepared by Eat, the restaurant in the nearby Colonial Plaza.
Registration for the 5K is $15 and includes a T-shirt. Proceeds from the event go to support the restoration of another town park, Linear Park off Water Street, where Jeschawitz and other volunteers are working to restore a playground removed last year following a safety inspection.
"We started talking about [the February Freeze] probably in November," Jeschawitz said recently. "I walk in the Spruces area and was thinking of what we could do for a fund-raiser. I thought it would be fun to do a cross country ski race or something, sort of like BeFit's 'Run Your Pie Off' at Thanksgiving. I asked [Town Manager Jason Hoch] if we could use the Spruces, and he didn't see why not.
"A couple of days later, [former WRLF director] Leslie Reed-Evans came into the town office thinking of doing some kind of nature thing at the Spruces. Leslie and I started talking about it, and we partnered together along those lines."
They picked a weekend to coincide with Williams College's Winter Carnival, and brought in other community partners, like the Williams Outing Club and the Williamstown Youth Center, which is allowing the organizers to borrow snowshoes for participants to use in the 5K.
Together they hope to provide a fun day in the great outdoors while raising a little money and a little awareness for the town park, acquired by Williamstown after Tropical Storm Irene led to the closure of the mobile home park that used to occupy the site.
"Essentially, it's a fundraiser for Linear Park this year, but we would like it to be an annual fundraiser for the town's parks," Jeschawitz said. "A lot of people know the Spruces are there, but maybe they don't realize how much space there is and the trails you can access."
The February Freeze is planned for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16. Register for the 5K here.
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