Gananoque's Winterpalooza braves wonky weather

Despite cancellations of some activities due to either cold or unusually warm weather, organizers of the Winterpalooza Festival, a first of its kind for Gananoque, are touting its success.

“There were lots of family skating and skating availability in the evening for pick-up hockey or just skating around,” said Emily Parker, the event co-ordinator.

“There was also some awesome indoor stuff, like the Gananoque Arts Network, we had some crafts there, a really fun drumming event two weeks ago (at Town Hall Park), another drumming event at the Playhouse, Family Day events, a meet and greet (with NHL veterans Alyn McCauley and Todd Gill).”

The festival wrapped up this past weekend with a couple of bonspiels at the Gananoque Curling Club, with lunch, prizes and live entertainment.

“I’m always pleased with how all of Gananoque jumps onto an idea, and if there’s something going on in the community, from what I’ve seen, everyone wants to get involved,” said Parker. “So, we’ve had so much support and want to add to it. Even with a few things here and there cancelled due to weather, I think it’s been really fun, really awesome. The crafts, the events that may not have had a chance to present itself if it wasn’t for the funding provided for this Winterpalooza event, it’s so awesome to see this happening, especially in the winter months when all you want to do is curl up and stay warm.”

Organizers were diligent in organizing the festival, and the volunteers put their best foot forward to get most activities off and running, however, Mother Nature made her presence known.

“Unfortunately, the weather definitely had an impact on the Winterpalooza Festival,” Parker said. “That first weekend we were supposed to have some awesome skate sessions with Gan Fitness and an outdoor family skate, but unfortunately, with the cold, it was so cold that it was just me there, and unfortunately, the other events (that weekend) were cancelled due to the cold.

"And then with the warmth that we received afterwards, maintaining the outdoor rink’s ice was a huge job that our rink staff, who were out there every single day checking it out and seeing what needed to be done, and they did an awesome job, but unfortunately, the weather had a really big impact on whether or not we could use it.”

That warm weather is what cancelled a marquee event for the festival – the Friend’s of Gord Brown hockey game at the Gord Brown Memorial Canada 150 outdoor rink, which was to be held in honour of the late MP.

The Gananoque Girls Hockey Association, luckily, was able to get a couple of exhibition games in on the outdoor rink.

Parker is hoping the festival returns next year.

“Ideally, that would be awesome if we could keep doing this,” she said. “We have the Festival of Lights in December, and it’d be really awesome to keep doing this, too, because we have lots of ideas that we just couldn’t put all of them into (this year’s edition), but there’s ideas of snowshoeing, and so many other options.

"And yeah, there was disappointment with how the weather impacted the rink, but the public reaction was really great and everyone I’ve seen wanted to join along in the fun.”

(Keith Dempsey is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)

Keith Dempsey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times