Rain steals event’s ‘bonus’ day

Tim Wieclawski/metro ottawa


Richelle Andres catches drops of water from a melting ice carving in Confederation Park yesterday. Freezing rain followed by warm weather forced the National Capital Commission to close sections of the park yesterday, in case some of the larger sculptures left over from Winterlude collapsed.

Winterlude kicked off in a snowstorm but wrapped up in the rain, with the skateway closed and many of the massive ice sculptures in Confederation Park melting and near collapse.

"I’m a little disappointed," said Tina Lafono, who brought her two young children to the park for the sculptures. "It’s still fun to try to figure out what they used to look like."

While Winterlude officially ended Sunday, the host National Capital Commission had intended to keep its ice sculptures on display during yesterday’s new provincial statutory holiday. But rain forced closure of large sections of the park for safety reasons, said spokesperson Chantal Comeau.

Kimberly McCutcheon was crushed to learn the Rideau Canal Skateway had closed. "It was really disappointing. We really wanted to go skating." said McCutcheon, whose family drove from Brownville, New York to enjoy the final weekend of Winterlude.

Comeau said the canal will reopen when the weather improves. "Last year the canal was open until March 12, so there are still a few more weeks left, we hope," she said.

It was not a totally lost trip for the McCutcheons. The family did visit Jacques Cartier Park the day before.

"That was awesome," said Kimberly’s husband, Richard. "We had a lot of fun in the park. The kids loved the avalanche slide."

Winterlude sees an average 650,000 visitors a year. This year the NCC is conducting an official survey, to get a more accurate count, including out-of-town guests and their economic impact on the city.

The survey results should be released in early March.


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