The annual Winter Carnival is back... but with an inevitable COVID-19 twist to it.
It might be cold outside, but the Kahnawake Youth Centre (KYC) Winter Carnival is looking at warming each and every Kahnawa’kehró:non heart for the next few days. From February 1-12, the centre prepared a series of online and in-person activities while assuring that social distancing remains their top priority.
The carnival, one of the most anticipated events each year, will be slightly different this year, according to KYC’s director of operations Kyle Zacharie. Zacharie said that even though the centre had to completely change their programming and the way they usually offer the seasonal carnival, the event was too important not to do it.
“The carnival has always been an event that the community looks forward to,” said Zacharie. “Given the time that we are in, it was an opportunity for us to do something positive for the community.”
The carnival kicked off on Monday, with the annual after school program glow in the dark dance party - with masks on for this unique edition. By Wednesday, the KYC was finishing the preparation for the lighted ice rink path near Onake Paddling Club. Due to the restrictions, the rink will be open to one single household for a period of 45 minutes. On Thursday, Karihwanó:ron School threw a mini outdoor carnival day, one of the only in-person events of the Winter Carnival. The Kanien’kéha language program set up different activities throughout the day, such as a rally race and sports games.
The KYC also introduced the first edition of the community ice block wall, where Kahnawa’kehró:non are invited to freeze and place ice blocks along the skating path. The infamous Polar Plunge, which used to be on the final day of the carnival at KYC, was among the activities that needed to be adjusted. While it’s usually the most exciting event of the carnival and attracts a lot of community members, the KYC couldn’t take the risk of having a large gathering happening on their last day. As a result, explained Zacharie, people will nominate each other and take videos of themselves jumping in the snow or swimming around.
“We have never done it like this before, so we don’t know what the participation is going to be like,” said Zacharie. “But so far, there has been a lot of buzz around the idea so we are going with that.”
However, not all usual activities were able to be adapted to the situation. All of the tournaments, like basketball, broomball, volleyball, hockey and lacrosse, couldn’t be included in the programming. T
his edition might be different, but community members are still greatly encouraged to participate and to post their best pictures using the hashtag #kycwintercarnival2021 for the chance to win merchandise such as the renowned KYC winter tuque. Quarantine fever cabin is real, and the Winter Carnival might just be your answer to fight it off!
Virginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door