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Dog sled races cancelled for Winter Carnival; alternative events planned

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MASSENA - Dogs won’t be running the trails around the Frank S. McCullough, Jr. Hawkins Point Visitor’s Center for the 2014 Massena Winter Carnival, but the trails will still get some use.

“There will be no dog sled races in 2014. The expense and fees made it prohibitive for us to do,” said Miriam S. Catapano, president of the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce and Winter Carnival chairperson.

However, she said, they’ll still have the ability to use the trails around the New York Power Authority’s visitor’s center, and they’re teaming up with the Nature Center at Robert Moses State Park to provide alternative entertainment.

“On the bright side and exciting side, we’re partnering with the Nature Center. Mary (Danboise, Nature Center executive director) has come up with some awesome ideas,” Ms. Catapano said.

Among them is geocaching on Jan. 26. Ms. Danboise said they’ll have snowshoes available for $4 a set, and participants will travel the trail finding different locations using a GPS unit and solving riddles at the locations.

“We wanted to make it a fun way to be active, and they get to see the New York Power Authority trails,” she said.

That event will be on-going throughout the day, with participants welcome to join in any time, Ms. Danboise said.

The Nature Center will also host a moonlight ski and snowshoe event at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 18, she said. Skis and snowshoes will be available for rental.

“We’ll have the ability to use the trails that have been developed for the public. In the past only a few people and mushers got to see the trails. We want to open this up for people in the community to come out and enjoy the trails. It’s an opportunity to really showcase the trails,” Ms. Catapano said, thanking Spencer Thew for his work on the dog sled races in the past and the New York Power Authority for their grooming of the trails.

She said they’re also hoping to offer other snowshoeing and cross-country skiing events on the trails.

“The weather is kinder to those events,” she said.

Among the new events added to the Winter Carnival schedule is a Winter Magic photo contest, with participants invited to submit their favorite north country scene from around Massena.

The contest will be broken into two groups - adult and school-aged children high school and below. Entries, which can be a maximum size of 8x10, will be accepted until Jan. 10.

“They can contact the (chamber) office or website for information, rules and the submission form,” chamber Associate Director Penny Pullmain said.

The public, along with a panel of judges, will have an opportunity to vote for their favorite picture.

“Everybody will have one vote,” Ms. Catapano said.

The photographs will be on display at the chamber from the opening ceremony to the day of the Winter Carnival Parade before moving to Hawkins Point for display.

“On the 21st we’ll keep the chamber open to 8 p.m. for people who work during the day,” she said.

One of the returning Winter Carnival treats will be an ice sculpture or perhaps several of them this year, according to Ms. Catapano. The Winter Carnival Committee had commissioned an ice sculpture which stood outside of the chamber’s office last year, and they want to expand that this year.

“We’re looking at inviting sponsors to add sculptures around the community or at the chamber. We want to try to spread them around. They’re very reasonable prices,” she said.

“They can have their own logo,” Ms. Pullmain added.

The 2014 Winter Carnival will also see the return of the Winter Carnival Market at the Hawkins Point Visitor’s Center, as well as Kid’s Days at the Massena Community Center and Hawkins Point. Organizations or individuals that want to plan events around the Winter Carnival are encouraged to contact the chamber. Ms. Pullmain said the Boys and Girls Club of Massena is planning a Trivia Night on Jan. 18.

“We’ve been contacted by other organizations,” she said.

Anyone who’s interested in planning for the 2014 Winter Carnival is invited to attend the next committee meeting, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. Monday at the chamber office.

Among the other activities currently being planned are the opening ceremonies, Massena Cup hockey tournament, 5k walk/run, downtown parade, Family Feud, father/daughter dance, fireworks and snow sculpting contest.

The theme for the 2014 event, which runs from Jan. 16-26, is “Family & Friends – Winter Magic.”

For more information, contact the chamber at 769-3525 or visit the chamber’s website at www.massenachamber.com or their Facebook page.

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