The resounding answer to that question Saturday afternoon was, “Who cares?”
More than 1,000 winter-weary Oswegonians packed the Oswego YMCA Armory all afternoon Saturday to celebrate the seventh annual Warm Up Oswego festival. The crowds came in waves to check out the wares of the many vendors inside the Armory and to watch the various demonstrations and preview performances of upcoming musicals at Oswego and Mexico high schools.
The YMCA adopted the festival in 2006 in order to raise money to renovate the Armory and to create more programs.
This year’s event drew hundreds of people to the Armory and hundreds more to various other locations all around downtown.
G&S Steamers hosted a hot wing festival to support the Child Advocacy Center in Oswego County. The event included live music and dancing as well.
Other hot spots throughout Oswego kept up the heat all weekend, including – a warm up wine, cheese and chocolate tasting at Canal Commons; mug o’music at Taste the World; art openings at the SUNY Downtown location and Lakeside Artisans and a barn dance at the McCrobie Civic Center on Friday night with Great Bear Trio.
On Saturday night, the Music Hall hosted “Boots & Shorts” at the McCrobie Civic Center.
Among the other hot spots around the city were at Lakeside Artisans, Canal Commons, 1881 Steakhouse, Greene’s Ale House and Canales Restaurant.
“This is fun. This is what Oswego is all about, getting outside and enjoying the winter – so what if there isn’t any snow?” said Kelly Buckingham. “Look at all the people and stuff going on in here. This is a great event.”
“I think everyone’s having a lot of fun and that it is a ‘hot time’ in the city of Oswego today,” said Mary Vanouse, community development director and one of the organizers of the event.
Everything was going very well, she said late Saturday afternoon. There had been no major glitches and the crowds were huge, she said, adding that it might be a ‘winter’ festival, but the activities aren’t completely tied to whether there’s any snow.
A scavenger hunt led participants through the city to nearly four dozen local businesses (a record number for the event), to get their programs stamped.
The Fireworks by Pyrotecnico display began at 6 p.m. and blazed in the sky over the Oswego River for several minutes.
Downstairs in the Armory, the Oswego County Humane Society was looking to find permanent homes for several cats.
The “personal warming devices” were available for adoption at a special rate of $20.12 during the festival.
While they were successful for many this year, some other felines remain in foster homes.
To find out more about how you can help care for the cats or adopt one (or two) of your own, call 207-1070.
In his opening remarks, Mayor Tom Gillen said, Oswego is famous for its spectacular winters.
“This week we’ve had a chance to celebrate why Oswego is so famous. Sometimes snow, sometimes sunshine,” he said. “So, today let’s show the world that Oswego is one hot town!”
He welcomed the large crowd to the annual festival, thanked all the sponsors and wished good luck to everyone taking part in the Hot 2K Trot race.
He proclaimed the 2012 edition as “the biggest Warm Up Oswego ever!”
“This is turning out better than usual, except we don’t have any snow,” said Jackie Sheffield, of the YMCA, one of the coordinators of the festival. “Maybe it’s because of the nice weather. Everybody is having fun. They’re going all over the city, to the different hot spots. It’s good for the community.”
Inside the YMCA Armory, local vendors, businesses and organizations had booths which offered a myriad of products and services.
Among the vendors were the Friends of Fort Ontario, Air Hop Inflatables, the Oswego Valley Railroad Association, Midnight Sun and many more.
Performers from Oswego High School and Mexico High School gave visitors a taste of the upcoming spring productions of the musicals at each school.
Irish dancers, gymnastic and karate students also showed off their skills.
No one in the Armory went hungry. Besides popcorn and other snacks, Canale’s and Cam’s offered a wide variety of cuisine. Boy Scout Troop 888 cooked hot dogs over a fire outside the historic facility and made homemade apple crisp as well.
The Oswego Valley Railroad Association set up a railroad exhibit that was a hit with young and old.
The club’s goal is to preserve the history of trains in the area.
For more information about the group, call 343-2253.
Outside the Armory, some youngsters played king of the mountain on a pile of icy snow between the YMCA and Armory.
The team costume sled race lasted just a few seconds this year, with the YMCA team re-capturing the title after stumbling to second last year coming in behind team – YP Voice. For the festival, their record is now 6-1 in the popular event.
Four teams squared off this year. Besides a pair of teams representing the YMCA, representatives of the Oz Roller Girls and The Addams Family hurtled themselves down a snowless West First Street on makeshift sleds.
The major sponsors of the Warm Up Oswego festival included Oswego County Federal Credit Union, NRG, Pyrotecnico, C’s Farm Market, Constellation Energy, Pathfinder Bank, Price Chopper, Stevedore Lofts, Sutton Real Estate and Seaway Lofts.