Warmth can't chill kids' enthusiasm for South Portland Winterfest

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Warm weather has played havoc on Winterfest, forcing officials to make some adjustments to the schedule.

But it hasn’t deterred the excitement and enthusiasm some local children feel for the annual event. 

Friday night’s ice skating at Mill Creek has been canceled, but the party will continue with fire pits, hot cocoa, cookies and games. Celebrate Knightville, from 4:30-7:30 p.m., will feature in-store specials and activities at participating businesses.

On Saturday, the children’s fishing derby has been postponed to Feb. 11, due to unsafe ice conditions at Hinckley park. There also will not be a sledding hill. 

All other events will go on as planned, including a pancake breakfast from 8-10:30 a.m. at the Community Center.

The rest of Saturday’s events will take place at the Wainwright Recreation Complex, and include horse-drawn carriage rides; games and obstacle courses; a chili/chowder challenge and wing-eating contest; ice sculpture demos; a family skate, subject to ice conditions; food trucks; a cardboard sled competition, and a fireworks display at 6:30 p.m.

Despite the lack of a sledding hill, many children were having fun preparing their sleds this week for the cardboard sled design competition, including Evan Small, 10, and Sam Stocks, 9, a pair of fourth-grade friends who attend Dyer Elementary School. 

The two boys are building a snack sled together, which  Evan named their “Little Duck Snack Sled,” complete with what Sam calls a “snack randomizer.”

“We like snacks. So why not build a snack sled? When you are going down the hill, you can eat snacks,” Sam said.

The two friends agree they would like to fill their “snack randomizer” with chips and gummies. 

Evan and Sam are making the sled to look like a duck, and will paint it yellow. There will be enough room for the two to sled together front to back. 

It was the first time the boys made a sled from cardboard, but they both have experience working with the material, along with duct tape and paint.  Evan says the two made a “ginormous” fort and a car with boxes. They also participated in the cardboard challenge last year at school and built a bean bag toss game, similar to what is seen at a carnival. 

The cardboard sled competition is open to children ages 5-14. All sleds must be created from only cardboard, paint and duct tape. 

Friends Emma Jewell, 12, a sixth-grader at Memorial Middle School, and Olivia Walker, 10, a fifth-grade student at Skillin Elementary School, are less interested in snacking and more interested in winning.

They named their sled “Ad Victorium,” which is Latin for “to victory.” The sled was built to resemble an airplane.

After Emma’s mother, Nancy Smith,  showed her photos of last year’s winners on her phone, Emma said, “We need to take it up a notch.”

“We can still make it the best thing ever,” Emma said.

“Me and Emma are a really good team,” added Olivia, who said she likes how the event fosters “team competition.”

The girls began their sled project with a sketch, but as they worked the ideas flowed and they started making alterations.

The two chatted as they worked.

Emma took apart a large cardboard box, cut it into two pieces, and said, “Look I have two wings.”

“We need more duct tape. I can pay for it with my chore money,” Emma said.

“We can make string out of duct tape,” Olivia added. 

“We are going to win this thing,” Emma responded, “especially after all this work.”

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Olivia Walker, 10, left, and Emma Jewell, 12, of South Portland test out the wings on the cardboard sled the girls are building for Winterfest this weekend. They designed the wings to control speed. 

Sam Stocks, 9, front, and Evan Small, 10, of South Portland build their snack sled, which Evan named “Little Duck Snack Sled.” It comes complete with what Sam calls a “snack randomizer.”

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