OSWEGO, NY – Close to 1,000 winter-weary Oswegonians packed the Oswego YMCA Armory all afternoon Saturday to celebrate the sixth annual Warm Up Oswego festival.
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.
Apparently, Old Man Winter was irked over the celebration heating up the Port City and he tired to snow on the party. Ironically, it had the opposite affect.
“This is fun. So what if it’s snowing a little?” mused Larry Rapshaw. “This is Oswego. Look at all the people here. This is an amazing event.”
“This is a wonderful event,” agreed Jake Mulcahey. “It’s great to have something like this during the winter; it gives people an opportunity to get out and have some fun and see all their friends. This place (Armory) is packed, which goes to show how much people enjoy it.”
“I think everyone’s having a lot of fun and that it is a ‘hot time’ in the city of Oswego today,” enthused Mary Vanouse, community development director and one of the organizer of the event.”
Everything was going well, she said late Saturday afternoon. There had been no major glitches and the crowds were huge, she added.
A scavenger hunt led participants through the city to nearly three dozen local businesses, to get their programs stamped. The winner helped press the button to start that evening’s fireworks.
The fireworks display, enhanced by the snowflakes, blazed in the sky over the Oswego River at 6 p.m.
Downstairs in the Armory, the Oswego County Humane Society was looking to find permanent homes for several cats.
While they were successful for some, many 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 Randy Bateman joked that “last year, it was about minus 30 degrees” and he gave a short speech. “It’s a little nicer today, so I have a two-page speech – just joking.”
He welcomed the large crowd to the sixth annual Warm Up Oswego festival, thanked all the sponsors and wished good luck to everyone taking part in the Hot 2K Trot race.
He proclaimed the 2011 edition as “the biggest Warm Up Oswego ever!”
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, the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, Novelis, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and many more.
Performers from SUNY Oswego gave visitors a taste of the upcoming spring production of “Grease,” cast member from the OHS musical Oliver! Sang a few songs from their play and several karate students, young and old, displayed their talents.
Irish dancers and gymnastic students also showed off their skills.
No one in the Armory went hungry. Besides popcorn and other snacks, Canale’s, Cam’s and Aunt Mary’s offered a wide variety of cuisine. Boy Scout Troop 888 cooked hot dogs over a fire outside the historic facility.
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, according to Bill Nicholas, secretary of the OVRA.
“It’s always fun to come here. We’ve had several people stop by and watch the train, and reminisce about Oswego’s railroad history,” he said. “The kids are just fascinated watching the train going around and all the scenery.”
For more information, call 343-2253.
Outside the Armory there was treasure hunting in a snow mountain. Youngsters dug for candy, trinkets and other goodies buried in the snow.
A pair of youngsters unearthed (unsnowed?) two large chili peppers and was awarded bonus prizes.
The team costume sled race followed shortly after the treasure hunt.
The number of teams entered in the popular race nearly doubled this year, jumping from 4 to 7. The large field prompted organizers to run two heats and then pit the winners against each other in the grand finale.
This year’s filed of racers included a squad of zombies (Night of the Living Sled), which stumbled to the starting line to the sounds of “Thriller.”
“I hope we don’t come in dead last,” team member Sue Fox deadpanned.
They earned first place in the best costume segment of the race, but were buried in the back of the pack during the race.
The race was held in the snow-covered street in front of the Armory. The YMCA’s team saw its five-year winning streak snapped by another ‘Y’ team – YP Voice.