Winter’s icy stranglehold wasn’t strong enough to force the Old Strathcona community into hibernation, as dozens ventured out to celebrate a yearly tradition yesterday.
Bundled up tight, children flooded an outdoor rink as 40 kilometres per hour winds swirled the scent of flame-grilled hamburgers through the air at Winterfest 2009, an annual festival for area residents.
“It’s a way for our community members to get out and enjoy the winter,” said Jeanie McDonnell, Strathcona Community League spokeswoman. “Our turnout is lower than usual, and it’s absolutely to do with the weather.”
Though temperatures were recorded at a frigid -29 C with wind chill, no outdoor activities were cancelled.
The area is a ritualistic weekend destination to the infamous retail and party strip for many Edmontonians, who use services for a short time, then take off.
“I’m sure a lot of shoppers on Whyte Ave. … forget there’s a community around here, but we know what it’s all about,” McDonnell said.
Old Strathcona has an extremely diverse demographic, full of families, students and retirees, she added.
“It’s fairly close-knit in parts, but there’s a wide variety of people, so, it’s a little hard to find activities for everyone,” she said. “This festival is fairly broad.”
Braving the howling wind and a lineup of hungry winter warriors, Kelly Binnington flipped burgers through the afternoon.
“At least it’s a warm place to be,” she said cheerfully.