Friday, March 4, 2016

Winterfest's first year low on winter, high on spirit - By Michelle Libby

Last Saturday, Windham Parks and Recreation and Windham PTA worked together to put on a Winterfest celebration that would mesh with the Sebago Lake Fishing Derby, however, when the derby was cancelled expected attendance dropped, but that didn’t stop the people who came from having fun. 

“It was a slow start and as the day went on more people came. It was a little lower attendance with the confusion around the canceling of the derby,” said parks and rec director Linda Brooks. “By the evening, we had a lot of visitors.”

The event was held at two venues, Donnabeth Lippman Park and the Windham Veterans Center, with shuttle service between the two. 

“A lot of people learned about Lippman Park,” said Brooks. “They didn’t know it was there.”

Skating at the park was a big hit. Youth played hockey and some families skated, said Brooks. Many of the activities were more akin to a springfest, but the bounce houses, hidden candy on the story walk and hula hooping with Flamin’ Raymond and Sizzlin’ Susan gave everyone a chance to practice their spring and summer fun skills. 

The indoor venue at the Windham Veterans Center gave people the opportunity to get out of the cold and warm up with free food and treats. The Windham PTA held a crockpot cookoff, and served hotdogs and popcorn. Guests sampled the food and voted for which dish was their favorite. The third place was a tie between Sarah Simagna’s meatballs and Julie Frost’s Taco Soup, second place went to Melissa Oldakowski’s sweet and sour meatballs and first place went to Ernesta Kennedy for her BBQ Beans. 
Pat’s Pizza donated a soup to the crockpot competition and 25 other businesses donated prizes for the winners and as door prizes. The Windham Veterans Association donated the building to the cause.
“It was great because we had such a response from our community,” said Wotton. 

In the past the PTA held a winter type event at Manchester School, but it had not happened for the last few years. When they heard about this event, the PTA couldn’t wait to partner with Windham Parks and Recreation. The PTA took over the organizing of the warming space in the Veterans center.
Wotton, president of the PTA in Windham, involved Cub Scout Pack 805, who set up a Pinewood Derby track and let the children build Lego cars to race. 

Leanna, 7, and Bryce, 4 1/2 , Rogers build race cars out of Legos to run down the Pinewood Derby track.
“It’s been a successful first year. We wanted to start simple so we would be successful,” said Wotton. “Next year it will hopefully be bigger.”

Thank you to the sponsors including Maine Optometry
Next year’s plans are already underway, with the possibility of a shortened day and expanded community involvement. “Lippman Park is a great opportunity for winter activities like cross country skiing, skating and snowshoeing,” said Brooks. She anticipates that the locations will stay the same. 

A Campfire.
“On the whole it was something to grow on. People were generally very pleased,” Brooks said.

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