GREENFIELD, Mass. -- With Greenfield having been designated a "Playful City, U.S.A.," this year’s 91st annual Winter Carnival, from Friday, Feb. 1, through Sunday, Feb. 3, will emphasize even more fun, recreation and sport than in its longstanding history.
"It’s true," said Kelly Jenkins, a veteran assistant in the Greenfield Recreation Department. "Greenfield is now designated as a ‘Playful City, U.S.A.’ by KaBoom, a national non-profit organization committed to promoting wholesome family fun. That’s why we call our three days of winter carnival ‘Winter Play.’"
Director Christie Moore, who’s headed the very successful recreation operation since 2007, is in complete agreement. "We want to bring families together in a fun, outdoor recreational setting. Come join us for a jam-packed weekend of varied activities all over town, all weekend long."
The carnival gets off to a fast start Friday, Feb. 1, with artists sculpting ice all day long in front of eight participating businesses -- Wilson’s, Baker Office Supply, co-sponsors Swift Cleaners and Adam and Eve, Greenfield Savings Bank, Ryan and Casey Liquors, Summit Ice (sculpture on the Common), Greenfield Garden Cinemas, and the office of attorney-mediator David Singer.
"We’re very excited about this new Ice Walk event," said Moore, "and we’re very grateful to the Zaccheo Family, proud sponsors of the activity. We need everyone to vote for his or her favorite sculpture at our ballot box on Town Common by Sunday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. We also need two more sculptors to compete. If you’d like to enter, please call us at the Recreation Department at 413-772-1553."
Winners of the contest will be announced at the carnival’s awards ceremony at Beacon Field Sunday, Feb. 3 at 3:45 p.m. First place carries a prize of $500; second place $300; and $200 goes to the third place finisher.
Another interesting first-day event is the Cribbage Tournament set for a 5:30 p.m. start Feb. 1 on the second floor of the Youth Center at 20 Sanderson St. Registration is at 5:15 with a $10 fee. The activity is open to all ages.
Opening night events, all at Beacon Field, feature a bonfire from 5 to 7. At 6, the Fire Dancers entertain with their awesome array of pillars of flame, blazing hula hoops that wrap the performer in curtains of fire, along with whirling snake torches. At 6:30, the official carnival kickoff takes place with spectacular fireworks sent upward from Poet’s Seat Tower.
The following day, Saturday, Feb. 2, brings the exciting 2013 Sleigh Bell Run, a four-mile road race that begins at 10 a.m. from Hope St. and moves through the Highland Park area. Openings still are available for this well-known competition.
In addition, a free Snowshoeing Trek is scheduled also at 10 a.m., guided by Chris Ethier of Bicycle World. Participants are asked to supply their own snowshoes and to meet at the Highland Park parking lot for the walk.
Elsewhere, a complete day of family play unfolds Saturday at the Youth Center. Jack Golden, also known as Dr. T, presents "Garbage Is My Bag" at 10 a.m. The holder of a Ph.D. in Garbology, Jack has a madcap personality that anchors this award-winning, fun-filled combination of juggling and jokes plus much more. This event is sponsored by the Greenfield DPW.
At 11, the Youth Center will show artwork done by pupils from the Greenfield Middle School. Meanwhile at 9:30, there will be a LEGO competition for grades K-6 with a $3 entry Fee. Prizes will be awarded by age group. From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Greenfield Games of Main Street, known for their innovative, dynamic and challenging board games, will supply new and fun-packed amusements.
Feb. 3, the final day of the carnival, opens with breakfast with Frosty, the friendliest fellow in the shade, at The Ninety-Nine Restaurant from 8 to 10 a.m. Admission is $6 with children 10 and under $4. Kids two and under are admitted free.
"Breakfast with Frosty is one of our most popular events," said Moore. "We served nearly 200 people last year and we hope to serve even more this year."
Other events at Beacon Field include ongoing sledding and outdoor ice skating, the latter at the new Ice Rink with the former at the longstandng Beacon Sledding Hill. You can also build your own snowman at the annual Snowman Village -- an event that’s ongoing, too. And don’t forget to get your picture taken with the Headless Snowman. Another activity that takes place through the day is Marshmallow Toasting by the Bonfire. Marshmallows are sticks will be passed out.
In addition, the yummy Cookie Bake Off takes place at noon -- complete with a contest. You must drop off a minimum of two dozen cookies at that time. They’ll be prizes awarded for Best Overall, Most Original and Best Decorated. Also at noon, there’s the Chili Cook-Off, the traditional battle of local restaurants for bragging rights for "The Best Chili Around" these parts.
And the annual hockey match pits the Franklin County Fire Fighters against the Franklin County Sheriff’s squad on the outdoor rink at Beacon Field. In two previous meetings, each team has notched a victory. Both games were played indoors.
A new event, aimed at raising money for a dog park in Greenfield, moves into the spotlight at 1 p.m. Organized by the Paws Park Group, it’s the K9 Keg Pull. "It’s possibly the most endearing event you’ll see," said Recreation Director Moore. Bounding down a snow- packed course, yanking "kegs" selected for their respective sizes, the dogs race against the clock. There’s a $5 entry fee that is paw-marked for the Paws Park of Greenfield. The traditionally beloved Cardboard Sled Contest will be held at 2:30 p.m. This event features six different prize categories. The awards ceremony, centering on the unveiling of prize winners from the Snow Sculpture Contest, Cardboard Sled Race, Ice Sculptures, LEGO Contest, Cookie Bake-Off, and Chili Cook-off, starts at 3:45 p.m.
The Greenfield Winter Carnival’s main sponsors are Wormtown Trading, the Ninety-Nine Restaurant, and The Hammond Family. The Recreation Department would also like to thank the Greenfield Department of Public Works for their special efforts.
Volunteers are still welcomed for the carnival. Contact the Recreation Department at 413-772-1553 or visit Facebook under Greenfield Recreation.