Ottawa’s big winter celebration wrapped up yesterday for the 31st time, with organizers declaring Winterlude a success thanks to good weather, great crowds, new events and the fact all sites were open on Family Day.
“We have reached or overtook our average number of 650,000 revellers,” said Julie Rocheleau, spokesperson for the National Capital Commission, which runs the winter festival.
“Each year, our goal is to turn Canada’s capital region into the best place to celebrate our nation’s winter traditions,” said Jean-François Trépanier, NCC’s executive vice-president of operations, during the closing ceremonies.
“The thousands of smiling faces that we have seen over the last three weekends are extremely gratifying and a telling sign that the NCC has reached its goal.”
Now that the Ice Hogs have ceremonially departed to Canada’s far north, Ottawans have to settle in for at least another dreary month of winter.
But two high school students from Brazil, here in Ottawa to learn English, are enjoying their first winter, especially the BeaverTails.
“Cinnamon and sugar is a very good combination — it’s very Ottawa,” said Manoela Bossle, as her friend Anna Veriato chipped at a block of ice to free a plastic buffalo in the Arctic Ice Dig.
Ten-year-old Armin Farhoudi got a plastic horse for his archeological efforts as his father, Hamid Farhoudi, praised the ice sculptures and aboriginal dancing.
One of the more popular new events this year was Ukiuk — a sound and light show with giant images projected onto the Government Conference Centre across the canal from the National Arts Centre.
Dazzling lights, pyrotechnic effects and a soundtrack captivated audiences.
The Rideau Canal Skateway — billed as the largest skating rink in the world — remained open for most of the festival. A brief spell of warm weather closed it during the first week, when ice sculptures wore protective blankets to shield them from rain.
But all three weekends had great winter weather and skating conditions were fine.
The canal is currently open from the National Arts Centre to Dows Lake, and will remain open to skaters as long as the weather co-operates.
The NCC has already begun planning for next year’s Winterlude, which takes place Feb. 5 to 21, 2010.