Greenfield’s Winter Carnival ushers in family fun in 101st year

By BELLA LEVAVI and JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writers

Published: 02-07-2023 7:32 PM

GREENFIELD — Despite the subzero temperatures of Friday and Saturday, families continued to come out all weekend long for festivities planned as part of the 101st annual Winter Carnival.

Most events throughout the weekend went off without modifications. Others, primarily outdoor activities planned for Friday night, were moved indoors or rescheduled for a different day to keep people out of the cold. Some events were canceled altogether due to the extreme cold.

Many Winter Carnival activities, planned by the Greenfield Recreation Department, are geared toward people of all ages, though a fair number of events are planned with children in mind. Two such events this year included the first-ever Lasermania show and Friday’s Glow Party.

Lasermania, which was held in the Greenfield Middle School auditorium on Saturday, brought children together to dance, clap and learn about the science behind light. The Recreation Department partnered with public schools for the show, bringing a mix of entertainment and education.

“Every year we try to come up with new and creative activities,” said Recreation Director Christy Moore. “We partnered with the school because it had a STEM piece.”

Lasermania included a lesson on the etymology of the word “laser,” as it is actually an acronym that stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” There was also a lesson in the reflection, absorption and transmission of light through objects such as a jar of oil and some balloons.

It also included a crash course in color mixing. The presentation displayed how mixing colors can make new colors, such as how red and blue combine to make purple. Children learned that with just three primary colors, a multitude of colors can be made.

A light show as part of Lasermania incorporated popular music and TV show theme songs.

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“It was amazing,” said Simon Caswell, a student at Federal Street School. Simon noted he enjoyed learning about color mixing and watching the light show at Lasermania, but he also enjoyed seeing the ice sculptures on display along Main Street.

While Lasermania turned out to be perfectly planned as an indoor event amid subzero temperatures outside, Friday’s Glow Party was not as serendipitous. Originally planned for Beacon Field, the Glow Party was moved inside the middle school cafeteria as temperatures plummeted and wind chills intensified.

Attendees at the new location received free glow accessories and were welcomed to a dance party featuring a DJ. The Glow Party also included dancers on stilts who were decked out in black suits with glow sticks attached.

“It would have been cool outside, but it was still enjoyable indoors,” said Harper Schwerin, a student at Greenfield Middle School.

“I mean, it is the Winter Carnival, but we didn’t know it would be this cold,” Moore said. “We are happy to have people inside and we had a great turnout.”

With temperatures raising into the 40s on Sunday, a Winter Carnival classic returned: the beloved K-9 Keg Pull at Beacon Field.

Canines of all shapes and sizes were tasked with hauling cargo ranging from empty beer cans to a full-size empty keg as spectators crowded the raceway’s perimeter. One at a time, each trainer led their pet across the finish line as quickly as they could by any means necessary.

Montague resident Heather George wowed the crowd with two powerful pit bulls that each finished with a time of around 6.3 seconds. Rocco, who weighs around 60 pounds and pulled a half-keg, celebrated with his “new wife,” 30-pound can-puller Shadow, after the race. They greeted their fans with respect when approached, beating out stereotypes as well as their competition.

“I’m that pet parent who tries to kill the stigma of awful pitties,” George said. “Give every dog a chance.”

For George, this mindset extends to dogs without a home. A large part of what makes the K-9 Keg Pull an “awesome event,” she said, is that donations were collected to support the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter in Turners Falls. The first-year participant said she is “definitely coming back next year.”

Yoshi, an 11.5-pound long-haired mini dachshund owned by Montague residents Meghan Huber and Michael Keebler, combats a very different stigma on the racetrack. According to Keebler, Yoshi is one of the competition’s biggest “underdogs,” with his small and stumpy appearance masking an inner speed demon.

“He’s way faster than you would think,” said Keebler, who Huber described as “a serious competitive runner” himself. “He’s a lap dog, but he can really let it rip when he wants to.”

Last year, Yoshi, who hauled four empty beer cans, came in second place. What kept him from reaching his full potential, his owners recalled, was a lapse in focus.

“If he can just run in a straight line, I think he could be in contention,” Keebler said before this year’s race.

“We went to Shelburne and we got coffee with whipped cream to bribe him,” Huber joked. “That’s our game plan.”

Bella Levavi can be reached at blevavi@recorder.com or 413-930-4579. Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.

An earlier version of this article inaccurately stated what proceeds from the K-9 Keg Pull will support. While donations to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office Regional Dog Shelter in Turners Falls were collected at Sunday’s event, direct proceeds will benefit Paws Park in Greenfield.

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