Thousands of people celebrated winter in the nation’s capital during the opening weekend of Winterlude.

It was a very successful weekend, said National Capital Commission spokes­woman Julie Rocheleau yesterday.
While the NCC won’t have attendance numbers until the end of the three weeks, all four Winterlude sites were full all weekend, she said.

Although more than 14,000 people attended the opening night ceremonies at the Snowbowl downtown Friday, balmy weekend temperatures kept ’em coming all weekend.

Accompanied by friends Jeffrey Jensen and Sheila Yabar, Bianca Robin checked out the ice sculptures at the Crystal Garden at Confederation Park yesterday, but the Ottawa resident admitted she’s really looking forward to testing the snow slides at Jacques Cartier Park.

The slides were the first thing that Heather Bourque, her husband, Shon Winters, and their children, Michael, 7, and Kaileigh, 5, visited over the weekend.

Bourque loves that Winterlude is so family-friendly.

“There’s fresh air and exercise, and you’re never too old for snow slides, ice sculptures and the canal,” she said.

Winterlude breaks up what would otherwise be a long winter in Ottawa, said city resident Gino Landry, who took his daughter, Sarah, 7, to Confederation Park yesterday.

“It’s the only thing we’ve got between Christmas and March Break,” he said.

Over on the Rideau Canal Skateway, Tyler MacKenzie enjoyed a spin around the ice with girlfriend Sheri and daughter, Madison, 5.

“There are a lot of people, but it’s not too crowded,” he said.

While Ukiuk, Winterlude’s new sound and light show, was well attended, other events, including the bed races and the message in the bottle event, were very popular, Rocheleau said.

Yesterday’s warmer temperatures caused a bit of slushiness on the canal in the downtown area and problems for the ice sculptures in the park, but Rocheleau is confident cooling temperatures forecasted in the coming weeks will make Winterlude a success.

Winterlude attracts 650,000 attendees annually.

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