Pittsfield Winter Carnival Resurrected By Local Businesses
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local Vox radio and Pittsfield Cooperative Bank are teaming up to ensure the city's venerable Winter Carnival doesn't fall by the wayside, especially during Pittsfield's 250th celebration year.
The Pittsfield Winter Carnival Committee was disbanded last month for lack of volunteers and time, cancelling the carnival after more than half a century. The event had suffered from bad weather in recent years and dwindling participation.
The news hit home for one Pittsfield native.
"When Peter Barry (Vox Berkshire Radio Group vice president) approached me with the idea of reviving the Pittsfield Winter Carnival, I was intrigued not only by the thought of saving a local treasure, but also by the fact that the effort to do so was being spearheaded by a local guy with deep roots in the area," said Charles Troccia, Pittsfield Cooperative's vice president of retail banking and marketing. "The Co-op has a long history of serving the community. This is the kind of thing we do. Peter — and Vox — share a similar vision. So, I brought this opportunity to Jay's attention."
Jay is Jay Anderson, the bank's president and CEO and a Pittsfield native.
"The chance to save an iconic event that has spanned over 65 years was a no-brainer for The Co-op," he said. "We were founded in 1889 by honest, local bankers who were intent on helping their neighbors make the community a better place to live."
That lead to Wednesday's announcement by Mayor James M. Ruberto that the 65-year old institution had found new life thanks to Vox Berkshire Radio Group (parent company of area stations WBEC AM/FM, WUPE AM/FM, WSBS AM/FM and WNAW) and Pittsfield Cooperative. Both have agreed to fund, market and coordinate the event in cooperation with the city.
The one-day, free family fair will be held at Onota Lake on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 11 to 3.
The carnival was established in 1946 by then Pittsfield Superintendent of Parks and Recreation Jackson Perry and had been coordinated by the recreation department since. In its heyday, it hosted speed skating and downhill championships and Olympic speed skating trials.
In making the announcement, Ruberto said the city was "thrilled" that the businesses stepped in to save a "cherished part of our history."
The city's recreation director Becky Tefft said the carnival will be condensed this year to one day "in hope that a successful, action-packed event will lead to expanded activities next year."
The Fire Department will pour two skating rinks; one for families and the other for the inaugural "Co-Op Classic" pond hockey tournament. Teams of six can register by 11 a.m. the day of the event.
There also will be a tug-of-war between the city's police and fire departments; the winner of the Bravest vs. Finest challenge will take home $500 to donate to a charity of choice. Also planned are an ice fishing derber and a $1,000 ice golfing competition. Funds raised from the ice golfing will be split between the Berkshire Humane Society and Pittsfield Little Leagues/Girls’ Softball programs.
The pavilion will be heated and free hot chocolate and pazckis will be provided by Big Y. Bob Heck Entertainment will offer music and karaoke and free games will be sponsored by Carr Hardware.
Sled racing for tots, snowshoe racing for all ages and a snowman building contest (kits provided) will be part of the day's activities, along with sleigh rides compliments of Haddad's Motors.
Vox FM stations WUPE and WBEC will be broadcasting live.
The rain date is Sunday, Feb. 20. Additional details can be found at www.pittsfieldcoop.com.