Winter makes a return to annual Merrimack event
By BARBARA TAORMINA
Union Leader Correspondent | February 24. 2013 11:01PM
Adam Brennick, 8, his brother, Jack, 4, and Pat Connelly of the Merrimack Sno-Buds Snowmobile Club give a thumbs up to show they are good to go on a snow cruise around Wasserman Park at Saturday's Winter Carnival. (BARBARA TAORMINA PHOTO)
A couple hundred kids and adults turned out for some sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing and other winter weather fun at the traditional event hosted by the town's parks and recreation department.
"Last year, there was no snow, and it was really windy so we did everything inside," said parks and rec director Sherry Kalish.
But this year, there was snow to spare, and Kalish said the crowd was the biggest she had seen in years.
Outside the park's main hall, people munched on warm popcorn and sipped hot chocolate while kids played on the swings and slides at the snow-covered playground. A line formed around a fleet of snowmobiles where kids were eager to take the Merrimack Sno-Buds up on their offer of a ride around the park.
"We give about 300 rides during the day," said Sno-Bud member George Lyon, who asked another member of the group if that total sounded right.
They did a little math and realized all together they had taken about 500 trips along a track that circled the playing fields before dipping down a narrow wooded trail that starts with a roller-coaster style hill. Lyon said the club, which has a membership of about 60 local families, participates in community events to promote the sport and to spread the word about snowmobile safety.
"Every year, we offer the safety class sponsored by New Hampshire Fish and Game," he said.
And while they volunteer plenty of time, the club accepts donations for their ongoing campaign to support N.H. Easter Seals, the chosen charity of the NH Snowmobile Association. The association represents about 100 local clubs, including the top-fundraising Sno-Buds.
Carnival-goers who ventured out onto the ice on Naticook Lake were greeted by Lions Club members Dennis Hanson and Art Cusato, who were helping run the group's ice fishing derby for kids.
"We have fun out here with all the families," said Hanson, who along with Cusato was tending a big pot of hot chocolate to keep everybody warm as they reeled in lots of pickerel and a couple of bass.
People who needed a few minutes to warm up stepped into the park's main hall, where local clubs and organizations had tables loaded with exhibits, information and plenty of homemade treats.
Kalish said the event tries to have a little something for everyone.
"The winter carnival gives families a chance to be together and get outside," she said.