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Winterval offers fun of season downtown

January 25, 2019

Looking for winter fun this weekend? Just follow the penguins.

Winterval is Saturday, and the day of activities in the downtown area includes a Penguin Scavenger Hunt featuring 3-foot penguin ice carvings at various locations starting with the Community Center. When you take a selfie with one of the penguins, you get a clue to the next one.

Once you’ve collected selfies with all the penguins, which are themed according to their location, you can post a selection of your photos to a Facebook page for a chance to win a prize basket valued at $100.

The hunt is just one of the ways Winterval gives attendees something to do at a time of the year when people might not get out much.

“You know, the winter months, you’re normally cooped up,” says Patti Davis, Community Center manager and Winterval coordinator. “But (Winterval is) an opportunity for people to get out of their homes so they don’t have the winter blues and be active.”

Events Saturday include a hike and bonfire social at Lindenwood Nature Preserve from 9 to 10:30 a.m.; “Nouvelle Annee: A French Garrison 1759” from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Fort; carnival at the Community Center from 1 to 4 p.m.; and various craft activities through the day at Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and the Allen County Public Library.

For the full Winterval schedule, go to www.fortwayneparks.org/programs/winterval.html. Some have a fee, but many events are free.

A winter bike ride will take place at noon, with riders gathering at the Lawton Park Trailhead and making the trek to the Franke Park Nature Lodge for hot cocoa before heading back to Lawton.

There will be a dozen pre-made ice sculptures around downtown and live carving taking place at 11 a.m. at the conservatory, noon at the library and 2 p.m. at the Community Center. There will also be an 8-foot-long ice tunnel at the Community Center for family photo-ops.

In the evening, the 21-and-over crowd can enjoy music from Ty Causey, games, dancing, cocktails and ice drink luges at Winter Cozy in a heated tent at Headwaters Park. The event is from 8 to 10 p.m. and costs $10 to enter.

The bar will feature eight beers from different local breweries, spirits from Three Rivers Distilling Co. and local wines. Food will be available from Shigs in Pit.

Guests can help create a piece of ice art in the tent, which is big enough to hold about 100 more people than last year.

The expanded footprint also allows more room for dancing, which proved popular last year, says Megan Butler, program and events manager of Riverfront Fort Wayne, which organizes Winter Cozy. There will even be a dance instructor to help get you on your feet.

If dancing isn’t for you, or you just need to give your feet a rest for a few minutes, the tent will also feature family-style seating and table games.

“All of that is designed to get you to interact with the stranger next to you,” Butler says.

After several years of warm weather for Winterval, this year will feel more like the season with a high near 20 degrees in the forecast. So bundle up if you’re hunting those penguins!

: Corey McMaken, The Journal Gazette

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