© 2022
NPR for Northern Colorado
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Up North, Winter Welcomed With Celebration


This winter is already one of the snowiest on record and there's plenty of grumbling, but way up North, people celebrate it. It's winter carnival season. North Country Public Radio's David Sommerstein sent an audio postcard from Ottawa's winter festival called Winterlude.

DAVID SOMMERSTEIN: In the Great White North, you have to make friends with winter just to survive. For three weeks in Canada's capital, people fete the cold and the snow. All over the bustling city, there are concerts and bonfires, giant snow sculptures, and irresistible lobes of fried dough called Beavertails. A run-of-the-mill municipal park is transformed into a winter playground of ice slides.

Unidentified Woman: On your mark, get set, go.

(Soundbite of sliding)

SOMMERSTEIN: The slides aren't steep. They're carved into rolling hills -chutes with high walls, none longer than a hundred feet. And you don't need a sled or any equipment - just plop yourself down at the top and push off.

(Soundbite of screaming)

SOMMERSTEIN: I'm here with my three-year-old daughter Olivia and a gaggle of her friends. We're lucky - it's sunny and warm with temperatures around 30. We've already hit the kiddy slide, the inner tube slide and the obstacle course - and obviously we stopped to munch on a Beavertail. Now, we're ready for the Giant Slide. Olivia is psyched.

Ms. OLIVIA SOMMERSTEIN: I love sled, going to sled, and bunking heads.

SOMMERSTEIN: As we wait in line on the snow ramp, Autumn and Dharma nine and six - are bouncing off the snow walls.

Ms. AUTUMN CRABTREE: It's really fun and really fast and you keep going down and down and down and they you hit the bottom and you go fast down the bottom.

Ms. DHARMA CRABTREE: They're big bumps.

Ms. A. CRABTREE: There's big bumps and your butt starts feeling weird.

SOMMERSTEIN: Four-year-old Diego puts it like this:

Mr. DIEGO LANGEN: Bubble gum we were sliding in a balloon.

SOMMERSTEIN: Bubble gum sliding in a balloon. Kid bliss.

We get to the top. The giant slide's wide enough for dozen people, so we can all go together. My wife, Lisa Lazenby, gets everyone organized.

Ms. LISA LAZENBY: Hold her hand tight, or your elbows together. Want to go elbows? Feet out front.

CHILDREN: One, two, three.

(Soundbite of screaming)

Ms. SOMMERSTEIN: I want to go again. I want to go again.

CHILD #1: That was awesome.

SOMMERSTEIN: The shadows in Ottawa's Jacques Cartier Park are getting dark and cold, but we've got another couple runs in us. How could you not love winter like this?

For NPR News, I'm David Sommerstein.

(Soundbite of music)

CORNISH: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Sommerstein, a contributor from North Country Public Radio (NCPR), has covered the St. Lawrence Valley, Thousand Islands, Watertown, Fort Drum and Tug Hill regions since 2000. Sommerstein has reported extensively on agriculture in New York State, Fort Drum’s engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the lives of undocumented Latino immigrants on area dairy farms. He’s won numerous national and regional awards for his reporting from the Associated Press, the Public Radio News Directors Association, and the Radio-Television News Directors Association. He's regularly featured on NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Only a Game, and PRI’s The World.