NCC prepared for thousands this weekend

Tracey Tong/metro ottawa


Anie-Pier Marchand and Zack Boles, both of Hull, enjoy a skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway. After a midweek warm spell, the red flags have come off the canal and Winterlude lovers can glide the skateway again this weekend.

Whether they plan to skate on the frozen Rideau Canal or zip down the snow slides at Jacques-Cartier Park, visitors and residents alike are looking forward to this second weekend of Winterlude.

The National Capital Commission, which hosted tens of thousands of people for the Winterlude opener last week, expects similar numbers this weekend now that winter has rebounded from an unseasonably mild spell that closed the Rideau Canal Skateway for about 12 hours this week.

"(The NCC) has been working hard throughout the week to ensure that the four official sites are ready to welcome visitors again," said NCC spokeswoman Chantal Comeau.

Julia Snelgrove, a visitor from Vancouver, was excited to learn one of her childhood sports heroes, Josée Chouinard, would be performing at the Ice Star Alley on Sunday.

"I used to figure skate when I was a kid," said the former Ottawa resident, who was wandering around the Crystal Garden at Confederation Park yesterday. "It might be fun to see her."

This weekend, Nepean’s Terry Tobin plans on taking his wife and grandson out to the Crystal Garden to see the sculptures aglow at night. After that, the trio might head to Jacques-Cartier Park.

New Brunswickers Tina Farris and Francois Jacques were out with friend Anton Wegenast to inspect the ice sculptures yesterday. "I think it’s great that we aren’t expected to pay to go somewhere that would usually be free," said Wegenast, an Ottawa resident.

The canal is open for skating between Dows Lake and Laurier Bridge and new ice carvings, including a 250-block replica of the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium, will be unveiled at Confederation Park this weekend.

Tonight, The Road Hammers perform at Snowbowl, while Florent Vollant, Kinnie Starr and Tanya Tagaq perform tomorrow starting at 7 p.m.

At Dows Lake, the Really Cool Prediction Run is held in the morning, while the 28th annual bed race goes in the afternoon. Winterlude continues through Feb. 17.

ice sculptures

  • Visitors can see ice carvers in action at the Crystal Garden all day Saturday, with judging on Sunday. The National Snow Sculpture Competition is held at Jacques-Cartier Park Saturday.

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