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There may have been a lack of snow but that didn't stop the sledding competition.
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Snowmaking at Springside early in the morning.

Winter Carnival Draws Families to Springside Park

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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The volunteers adjusted some of the events. The snow painting event went on but on large rolls of paper. More photos from the event can be found here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Winter Carnival had a snow problem on Saturday.
 
The problem was there wasn't any.
 
But that didn't stop the Springside Conservancy from hosting a winter celebration to bring families out to the park.
 
A few dozen families found their way to Springside Park on Saturday afternoon for a series of games and competition.
 
"We started this because we wanted kids to come out with families in the park," President Lisa Tully said. "We weren't making money off of this. We just wanted people to come."
 
The lack of snow caused some alterations to the events. The highly demanded cardboard box sledding competition went on anyway but in the mud. The conservancy was even loaned a snow gun in hopes to make enough snow for a small sledding race.
 
But, the temperatures overnight were too warm. In the end, the hill had just some slush that quickly turned to slick mud.
 
"It was really kind of funny seeing the kids go down in the mud. And they didn't seem to mind it," Tully said. "I wish there was snow and it would have probably brought more people. They were probably thinking it wasn't going to happen because it didn't snow. But we made the best of a no snow situation."
 
The children seemed to enjoy it as they carried their decorated boxes in hopes to win the most creative sled to the top of the hill and cruised down, over and over again. The fastest and the most creative took home prizes.
 
The ice skating rink had to be scrapped, though. The Fire Department had been on board to create an ice skating rink there, as it had historically done at the First Street Common and Osceola Park. But temperatures held that back, too.
 
"I was out until 2 in the morning trying to get the ice rink going. The Fire Department was here a long time. They helped us with the snow gun last night," Tully said.
 
Snow painting was adjusted with large sheets of paper for the children to paint on instead. An array of children's games from golf to bowling went off without a hitch. An obstacle course, scavenger hunt, and dodgeball all went as planned. Berkshire Bike and Board had fat bike demonstrations.
 
While the weather didn't cooperate, those who did attend had smiles on their faces. And the hope is that maybe some of those families will think of the park on the days when there is snow and go sledding and spend time together at the park. It was the first Winter Carnival since the once-popular event ceased in 2011 after nearly 70 years. 
 
The event was just one of four the conservancy hopes to roll out this year to draw attention to the park. Next up is a 5K running race and beer festival on July 28 sponsored by the Berkshire Running Center.

Tags: Springside Park,   winterfest,   

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PCTV Documentary Finds Pittsfield Parade Dates Back to 1801

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Community Television's recently released documentary "Fighting For Independence:  The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" has traced the first Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade back to at least 1801.  

An article in the Pittsfield Sun from July 7, 1801, says that "at 12:00 o’ clock at noon a Procession was formed consisting of the Militia of the town."

Previously the Pittsfield Parade Committee acknowledged that the parade dated back to 1824.

"This was a fascinating discovery, as we researched to put this documentary together," said Bob Heck, PCTV’s coordinator of advancement and community production and executive producer of the program.  "Not only were we able to trace the parade back further than ever before, but to see how the parade has impacted Pittsfield, and how the community always seems to come together to make sure the parade happens is remarkable."

The Pittsfield Fourth of July parade experienced bumps in the road even back in the early 1800s - most notably, when Captain Joseph Merrick, a Federalist, excluded Democrats from the yearly post-parade gathering at his tavern in 1808.

The parade ran concurrently from at least 1801 until 1820. In 1821, Pittsfield’s spiritual leader Dr. Rev. Heman Humphrey, canceled the festivities so the day could be dedicated to God before resuming in 1822 after residents decided they wanted their parade.

"Fighting for Independence: The History of the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade" premiered July 4 at 9:30 am on PCTV Access Pittsfield Channel 1301 and PCTV Select.  The program is available on-demand on PCTV Select, available on Roku and Apple TV, or online.

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