Downtown Winterfest celebrates the North

There were smiles throughout the Canada Games Plaza in the heart of Prince George Sunday during the third annual Downtown Winterfest that despite frigid temperatures saw hundreds in attendance.

With Dad holding on tight a toddler sporting reflective sunglasses fit over her wooly toque proudly took the lead on the Cottonwood Express mini rail train as it zipped along the tracks. Bright white hair peeked from underneath a faux fur cartoon fox hat and scarf combination sitting atop a senior's head as she braced herself for the chilly yet super sunny day. The trend saw at least a dozen others donning cats, wolves, foxes and even a blue minion hat scarf combo as people tried to stay warm as they explored the many outdoor Winterfest activities.

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A family left the stroller and bundled the children into a sled instead, while two grown men decided to get down while DJ Ant played that funky music.

GoodLife Fitness instructors encouraged many to Zumba their way to warmth, while others took a more traditional route and sipped on coffee, hot chocolate or indulged in a hot dog, fries, poutine or s'mores offered up at food trucks and outdoor booths.

The North Capital female hockey team took to the street at about noon to play a friendly game with anyone who was willing to pick up a stick and shoot the puck.
"We know it's chilly but Prince George is full of hearty people and they just had to come out and have some fun because this is a fun way to celebrate winter," Colleen Van Mook, executive director for Downtown Prince George, said.

Over at the Community Foundation Park beside the Four Seasons Pool there were two big ice slides and several smaller ones, including one that was built inside a giant whale spouting snow that found many small children laughing as they whooshed through it.

The snow wall featured cutouts of people frozen in action that offered a chance for those in attendance to try to fit themselves into different poses including one interesting shape in particular where the arms were far flung and the left leg was flexed at a jaunty devil-may-care angle. Many were smilingly successful in their efforts to fit their bodies to that one.

Inside the Civic Centre was the Winter Market that saw many vendors selling their wares and non-profits raising awareness and funds for their causes.
Matt Hutcheon who attended the event with his daughter Erica, 7, said his family attends many events held in Prince George.

"For us it's just a way to feel connected to the rest of the community and when you live in a northern climate you do your best to celebrate it,"  Hutcheon said. "I think this event is brilliant. We've gone to it the last couple of years and we have a chance to bundle up in layers and get out and embrace the climate that we live in and it's great."

Hutcheon had came in from the cold to explore the market with Erica after she had taken several turns on the ice slides and played street hockey.
"The big slides were the best because they were super fast," Erica said, holding a stuffed pink rabbit. Bun-Bun was the new-to-her prize she got when Hutcheon gave a donation to the Thrifty Friends Society, which in turn offered Erica a chance to spin the wheel for a prize.
Thrifty Friends Society is a non-profit that runs the Thrifty Friends Boutique, 2930 Fifth Ave., where all the merchandise is donated and the entire staff is volunteers. All proceeds go to local causes and currently all funds raised will go to local children to attend Juvenile Arthritis and Juvenile Diabetes camps this summer.

"I am shocked there are so many people here," Mary Jackson, volunteer for the Thrifty Friends Society, said. "People are coming in here (to the Winter Market) to warm up and then they realize there's just as much indoors as there is outdoors and it's just wonderful."


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