UPDATE: A snowball's chance in Portland: No snow means no WinteRush festival
PORTLAND — A shortage of snow has foiled the city's plan to hold a winter festival at Deering Oaks Park this weekend.
The second annual WinteRush was scheduled for Saturday. But the activities, including a snow plow parade, a man-made sledding hill, animal tracking and a snow sculpture contest, are a no-go without snow.
Nicole Clegg, the city's spokeswoman, sent an e-mail news release Wednesday morning announcing that the event was canceled, due to a lack of snow. The PolarBear 5K and Freezin For a Reason polar plunge will still take place.
A major snow storm is expected to hit the Mid-Atlantic region and southern New England on Wednesday. But Portland's only chance of getting more than flurries is if the storm changes direction and heads farther north.
"At this point, it doesn't look like the chances are very good," John Jensenius of the National Weather Service in Gray said Tuesday. "It's going to stay mainly to the south of our area."
Jensenius said Portland could get some flurries and snow showers, but not enough to cover the ground. Southern New England and New York, meanwhile, are expected to get between 10 and 20 inches of snow.
Clegg said if the city cancels WinteRush it may try to organize a smaller, family day at Deering Oaks later in the winter. She said updates will be posted at winterush.com.
In the unlikely event Wednesday's storm does turn north, the city has a day full of snow activities planned for Saturday.
It kicks off with the PolarBear 5K run, sponsored by Tri-Maine. The race begins at 9 a.m. at the East End School. The race circles the East End. For more information, go to Tri-Maine.com.
At 10:30 a.m., the city's snow plows, blowers and other snow removal equipment will parade down Park Avenue. After the parade, kids can check out how the vehicles work at the park.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., several snow activities take place along Farmer's Market Road. Along with building igloos and snow painting, Maine Audubon is sponsoring an animal tracking scavenger hunt. WinterKids is offering snowshoeing, with snow shoes provided, as is Portland Trails.
New events this year include a neighborhood snowman making contest at the Rose Circle, with the victor voted on by festival goers. The winning neighborhood gets the "Golden Mitten" award.
On the State Street Extension, which will be closed to traffic during the festival, the city will have a man-made sledding hill called the Sledder Shredder, sponsored by Hannaford Bros. It's a bring-your-own-sled event.
There is also an ice and snow carving competition for experts and amateurs. For more information, call 756-8275.
At noon at the East End Beach, an icy plunge called Freezin' For a Reason benefits Camp Sunshine. For more information, go to freezinforareason.com.
WinteRush concludes in the afternoon, with the second annual Pat Cushman Memorial Cross-Country Sprint Race. The competition is open to all ages and costs $5 to register. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
A complete schedule plus information about parking and eating is online at winterush.com.
Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or email@example.com