Winter Park Winter Carnival celebrates Winter Park’s famous gal |

Winter Park Winter Carnival celebrates Winter Park’s famous gal

Jess Parrish of Cool Hand Ice works on the ice castle under construction in the Village at Winter Park on Thursday morning. The castle is being built for this weekend's Winter Park Winter Carnival and Mary Jane Birthday celebration. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

A weekend of fun events, contests and music will begin in Winter Park starting Friday and continuing through Sunday evening.

Event venues include Hideaway Park, downtown Winter Park, and Winter Park Resort.

Snow sculpture contest

The Gemini lift operators won the snow sculpture contest last year in the “more than 5” category (more than five employees working on the sculpture). They built a model of the Moffat Tunnel in snow at the bottom of the Gemini lift.

This year’s theme is celebrating Mary Jane’s birthday. Gemini crew leader Travis Merrill said they are in the process of building a large model of Ullr’s head.

It’s about the gift of snow, he said, “And if the sculpture comes out as we intend, we hope to win.”

They will be working on the final touches of the sculpture until Saturday. What they could win is cash. If the Gemini lift team wins, Merrill said the money will be used for a pizza celebration with crew.

Snow sculpture judging takes place on Saturday at 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parade and fireworks

The yearly tradition of a parade through downtown on Main Street as part of the Winter Carnival begins at 6 p.m. on Saturday night, followed by fireworks, food, and sledding at Hideaway Park.

Each year there is a cash prize of $1,000 for the best float. Last year Winter Park Ski Patrol won top honors with a Mary Jane theme using Kevin McDonough’s flatbed truck for hauling a patroller dressed in costume as Mary Jane, and another patroller dressed as a cowboy on a brass bed.

People were playing cards and loggers walked alongside the float depicting what life may have been like for Mary Jane.

McDonough was playing it close to his vest and wouldn’t give any hints about their float for this year’s parade, but he did let it slip that it has to do with a ski jumper. The crew is working hard on the float and McDonough promises, “We will have a good entry this year.”

They win most years, he said, and the money goes into the Ski Patrol’s “kitty” for the end of the year party for patrollers and their families.

Wish Lanterns

New this year at the Winter Carnival, The Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber will be giving away Wish Lanterns with the hope that participants will light them and wish for snow.

These paper lanterns will be launched into the sky starting at 5:15 p.m. at Hideaway Park. According to organizers, this is a new twist on the snow dance. This is a free event.

Launch of the Snowshoe race series

Also new this year is a snowshoe race: Less Idle, More Wild. The race is 5K on snowshoes with a start and finish in Hideaway Park in downtown Winter Park. The course is slated to go through the Idlewild, a former ski area that provided novice skiers with fun and affordable skiing, east of the Hideaway park; the ski area closed in 1986.

The course has a short hill climb according to organizers.

There will be two more races this winter as part of the Winter Park Snowshoe Series. On Feb. 11 racers will participate in a hill climb from the base of Winter Park Resort with a party waiting at The Lodge at Sunspot. And, the third and final race of the series is April 7, to be held at the Colorado Adventure Park in Fraser where an obstacle course snowshoe race will be staged.

The finish line will feature a bonfire, music, and food to celebrate the participants and spectators.

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