Frosty festivals to winter sports: How Winnipeggers are taking advantage of milder weather

Donning toques, mitts and scarves Saturday, Winnipeg families didn’t let some light snow spoil a break from the extreme cold.

“It’s definitely a mood booster. A lot of family quality time, so it definitely breaks up the winter for sure.” said one family CTV News talked to.

“It’s really important, especially here in Winnipeg where it’s so cold we take any opportunity we get,” said another family.

The families took part in Winnipeg Trails Association’s Mobile Ski Library, where people can borrow cross-country skis and other winter sports equipment for free.

It’s an initiative Anders Swanson, the association’s executive director, said is important in encouraging Winnipeggers to get outside.

“You can lay a ski track, and suddenly it’s a ton of fun,” said Swanson. “It’s as good as a roller coaster. You don’t need to go to West Edmonton Mall to have a fun day, and that’s what I love about this.”

Swanson noted many people using the library are first-time skiers or are new to Canada.

While it changes it’s location frequently, on Saturday, the ski library was parked outside St. Norbert Community Centre’s Heritage Day event.

This year’s St. Norbert Heritage Day Festival, which celebrates the area’s past with a variety of other frosty festivities, is the first one back since the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s terrific. We make use of all of our property here. We have bonfires going right now,” said Dana Derkson, the centre’s president.

“Winnipeg is winter. You have to find a way to embrace snow and ice and things like that,” she added.

A sentiment echoed by Winterscape, Winnipeg’s first international ice carving contest.

“Winnipeg is a winter city,” said Corby Pearce, one of the event’s organizers.” Any chance we have to celebrate what we have here. We have the cold. We have the ice. The ice we are using we’ve taken out of the river.”

Taking place in Upper Fort Garry Park, the carving contest features artists from the Philippines, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands and Canada.

“Winter is coming every year. It’s either hide in your basement or get out and enjoy what we have, and the skating trails, and the snow sculptures, and all these beautiful ice sculptures that will be here and downtown,” said Pearce. “It’s a big deal so you got to come out and see it.”

The sculptures will be judged Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

The carvers will then stick around to create more sculptures around downtown later in February for Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Winter Wanderland initiative.

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