WinterFest proves community has warm hearts

Whether we’re still in a recession or are simply mired in what some have called a "jobless recovery" it proved to be no match for WinterFest, Rochester's annual celebration that thumbs its nose at the weather and provides a much-needed break from cabin fever.

We don’t know if the success of this year’s festival was due to the unusually long, cold winter we’ve experienced, or if WinterFest is simply coming into its own. Regardless, people were ready to party.

More than 10,000 people participated in events across the city — some of them indoors, admittedly — and more than $336,000 was raised for 22 local nonprofit agencies. Some of us dressed in strange costumes and plunged into near-freezing water, every hour on the hour, for 24 hours straight. Some of us sat on 5-gallon pails staring at a hole in the ice, hoping against hope that our children would catch a fish.

Others made snow sculptures or five-alarm chili. And this year, several thousand people sipped martinis and other sophisticated beverages from glasses made of ice, while sitting on an ice couch or leaning on an ice bar in the Peace Plaza.

Oh, the sacrifices we make.


Congratulations are in order to Marlene Jehnke, who was chairwoman of Winterfest 2009. Yes, event organizers were on the receiving end of great weather for nearly every event, but we think that because these activities now have a track record of being well-planned and organized, people will continue to turn out, year after year.

In other words, even if the first two weeks of February 2011 prove to be cold, windy and snowy, we’re convinced people will bundle up the kids, put on their stocking caps and embrace winter with reckless abandon.

And then, the day after WinterFest ends, they’ll start wishing for spring.


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