What if you threw a party and no one came?
That was the feeling at the Brainerd Parks and Recreation Department's Family Fun Fest Saturday. No one showed up for the day of planned events at Mill Park.
The cold weather, no doubt, was partly to blame. It was about 18 below just after 7 a.m. By 1 p.m. the thermometer was up to 7 degrees. The windchill made it feel like 6 below. The fact that the partial sunshine and relatively calm day made it feel actually quite tolerable was testament to this prolonged cold snap. And there's no end in sight - at least until Friday when it may reach a very mild 27 degrees.
"I think it had an effect on it, but it turned out to be a great day," said Tony Sailer, recreational specialist. "We tried, that's all you can ask."
Planned events included snow golf, boot hockey, smush races (where racers try to coordinate their run with long boards attached to their feet), kid's dog pull sled races and curling with vegetables. The warming house offered face painting, hot cider and hot chocolate. A $5 per person fee may have intimidated a few people along with the frigid air.
Sixth Graders Cameron Beckman (left) and Nathan Scott (right) watched anxiously to see whether Levi Rubin's kabocha squash would knock Nathan's squash out of the circle during their curling match Saturday. The curling game that uses vegetables instead of curling stones was an event at the Brainerd Family Fun Fest at Mill Avenue Park. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"We need warmer weather," said Wayne Mooney, director of parks and rec.
Minnesotans used to seem much hardier folk and not inclined to let even extreme cold stop them from doing things - even outside. Saturday, besides the park and recreation staff and a reporter, three intrepid boys showed up to play a little hockey in the Mill Park rinks.
"Want to try curling with vegetables?" Sailer asked. A small squash sat forlornly on the ramp leading to the warming house. The boys looked puzzled more than interested. And no doubt talked about crazy adult ideas as they took to the ice with hockey sticks in hand.
Mooney and Sailer were actually the only two who took part in the day's main attractions - snow golf and vegetable curling.
"Wayne's defending champ in golf and I'm defending champ in curling," Sailer said.
The vegetable curling was fun, they said, particularly after mastering the art of making the small green squash glide instead of tumble.
This was Brainerd's first try at the mid-winter event aimed at giving residents a fun day of outdoor activity. They weren't out much beyond a little staff time, hot drinks and, of course, a few squash. But the jury appears to be out as to whether this is the start of an annual event that may grow in time and familiarity.
"I guess you can lead a horse to ice, but you can't make him skate," Sailer said.
He noted a bright spot before heading into the warming house with the retrieved squash and thoughts of preparing the vegetable turned recreational object with brown sugar and plenty of butter.
"Well at least we've got dinner."
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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