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Snowtown USA to include 34 wintry events over six days

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Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner just hopes the plentiful snow we have now holds up for the new version of Snowtown USA, the festival that pays homage to the north country’s wintry weather.

On Wednesday morning, organizers announced the schedule for the six-day festival that features 34 events and activities, beginning with New Year’s Eve fireworks at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and culminating with closing ceremonies Sunday, Jan. 5.

“It’s going to be fun,” she said, adding there will will be something for everybody and for all ages.

Snowtown USA will include a hockey tournament to raise money for the Wounded Warrior program, a winter softball tournament, snow sculptures, outdoor skating, a Watertown Privateers hockey game and other activities.

It also will feature two New Year’s Eve get-togethers: a party at the Italian-American Civic Association, Bellew Avenue, from 7 to 10 p.m. and a Zoo Year’s Eve gala at the Hilton Garden Inn at 7 p.m.

Other events are an ugly sweater contest, Snowtown Karaoke, a chicken wing-eating contest and a Red and Black snow football game. The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park will hold a Winter Wonderland Weekend from Jan. 2 to 5.

A group of volunteers, city Parks and Recreation Department officials, the Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce and others put together the festival. Organizers found businesses to sponsor some of the events.

Mrs. Gardner and Parks Department Program Manager Celia E. Cook looked at old newspaper articles to come up with ideas for activities and events held during the height of Snowtown USA’s popularity more than 20 years ago.

The idea was born from a Facebook comment last summer by resident Maura M. Dawley, who had about 50 people commenting that it would be great to bring it back.

During its heyday, the 10-day festival that let residents thumb their noses at Old Man Winter featured snow sculpture competitions, hockey tournaments, an open skating rink at the Park Circle and other events.

“CBS Evening News” anchor Walter Cronkite actually coined the phrase “Snowtown USA.” A few years later, organizers used it for the name of the new festival.

Six days of festivities are scheduled
Following is the schedule of events planned for the Snowtown USA Fesetival:
Dec. 31
• Fireworks
Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds; 6 p.m.
• Snowtown NYE Celebration
Italian-American Civic Association; 7 to 10 p.m.
• Zoo Year’s Eve
Hilton Garden Inn; 7 p.m.
Jan. 1
• Resolution 5K race
Thompson Park/Zoo; time TBA
• Snowperson making contest
Fairgrounds; 10 a.m.
• Loco for Hot Cocoa 1K Children’s obstacle course
Fairgrounds; 11 a.m.
• YMCA Family Snow Kickball Game
Fairgrounds; 11:30 a.m.
• PJ Public Skate
Arena; Noon to 2 p.m.
• Watertown Privateers Game
Ice Arena; 4 p.m.
• Privateers Meet and Greet
Maggie’s on the River; following hockey game
Jan. 2
• Snowshoe tour
Thompson Park; 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
• Horse-drawn carriage rides
Thompson Park; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Dog sled rides
Thompson Park; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Snowtown Zoo festivities
Zoo; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Ugly Sweater Public Skate
Ice Arena; Noon to 2:30 p.m.
• IHC High School hockey game
Arena; 5 p.m.
• North Country Reflects
Flower Memorial Library; 5 to 7 p.m.
• Snowtown Karaoke
Maggie’s on the River; 7 p.m.
Jan. 3
• Favorite Sports Team Public Skate
Ice Arena; noon to 2:30 p.m.
• Chicken Wing Eating Contest
Buffalo Wild Wings; time TBA
• Snow Softball Tournament
Fairgrounds; 5 p.m.
• Wounded Warrior hockey tournament
Arena; 7 p.m.
Jan. 4
• Red and Black snow football game
Fairgrounds; 10 a.m.
n Snowtown Cake Wars Jefferson County Agricultural Building; 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Craft Fair Jefferson County
Agricultural Building; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Crazy Hat Public Skating
Arena; 1:15 to 2:45 p.m.
• Outdoor Coed Hockey Game
Fairgrounds; 2 p.m.
• Wounded Warriors hockey tournament
Arena; 9 a.m. to noon, 3 to 9 p.m.
• Snowtown USA event party
Maggie’s on the River; 10 p.m.
• Snow Softball tournament
Fairgrounds; time TBA
• Annie in the Water Dry Hill
TBA

Jan. 5
• Character Breakfast, Maggie’s on the River
9 a.m. to noon
• Mismatch Public Skate
Arena; 1:15 to 2:45 p.m.
• Snow Softball tournament
Fairgrounds; time TBA
• Wounded Warrior tournament
Arena
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3 to 6 p.m.
• Closing Ceremonies Torch Parade and Fireworks
Dry Hill; dusk
• Snow sculptures downtown
Throughout the festival
• Winter Wonderland Weekend at the Zoo at Thompson Park
Jan. 2 to 5
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