OSWEGO, NY – “This is the best Warm Up Oswego – ever!” exclaimed a Fulton youngster Saturday afternoon at the Oswego YMCA Armory.
“The windchill is probably 15 to 20 degrees warmer back home, however,” quipped her father.
More than 1,000 winter-weary Oswego County residents packed the Oswego YMCA Armory all afternoon Saturday to celebrate the eighth 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 musical at Oswego High School and the Oswego Players’ thriller, “Dial M for Murder.”
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.
GS Steamers hosted a hot wing festival (Friday) 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 was held at Canal Commons and the McCrobie Civic Center hosted Cliff Eberhardt on Saturday night.
Among the other hot spots around the city were Greene’s Ale House, Canale’s Restaurant, la Parrilla, Lakeside Artisans, GS Steamers and others.
“This is fun. This is what Oswego is all about, getting outside and enjoying the winter,” said Kathy Schrecengost. “Look at all the people and stuff going on in here. This is a great event. It shows that the city is a place to visit, not just drive through to somewhere else.”
“I think this is the largest turnout we’ve ever had. There are people all over,” said Mary Vanouse, community development director and one of the organizers of the event.
Everything was going very well, she said late Saturday afternoon.
A scavenger hunt led participants through the city to dozens of local businesses 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 $20.13 during the festival.
While they were successful for some this year, 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, Sixth Ward Councilor Eric VanBuren noted that Mayor Tom Gillen was out of town to attend his daughter’s wedding.
The councilor said the festival gives people a chance to celebrate why Oswego is so famous.
“So, today let’s show the world that Oswego is one hot town!” he said in welcoming the large crowd at the Armory.
Following the opening remarks, the annual the Hot 2K Trot race got under way.
“This is turning out to be just right, despite the windchill,” VanBuren said. “A few days ago we didn’t have any snow on the ground at all. Now look at it, this is what Oswego’s known for in the winter. Everybody is having fun. People are visiting 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 Greater Oswego-Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Sea Scouts Ship 229, the Hot Shoppe, Canale’s, Aunt Mary’s, la Parrilla, Air Hop Inflatables, Hot Mama Gena’s, the Port City Roller Girls and many more.
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 la Parrilla and Aunt Mary’s offered a wide variety of cuisine. Boy Scout Troop 888 cooked hot dogs over a fire outside the historic facility.
Outside the Armory, some youngsters played king of the mountain on a pile of icy snow between the YMCA and Armory following the treasure hunt in the snow event.
The team costume sled race lasted just a few seconds this year, with the Prickerbush Saucy Sled Team capturing the title in their first year taking part.
The winners said they practiced with their taco salad shaped sled as soon as the built it.
She pulled straight so we knew we had something good, they added.
They were followed by the squad from the Port City Roller Girls and the “The Mystery Machine,” a Scooby-Doo tribute group (winners of the best costume for 2013’s event).
The major sponsors of the Warm Up Oswego festival included Oswego YMCA, Pyrotecnico, the City of Oswego, Tobacco Free Network and Step One Creative.
Among the other sponsors were Stevedore Lofts, Midtown Plaza (Sutton Real Estate), Zink Shirts, Oswego County FCU, Oswego Printing, C’s Farm Market and Beverage Center, Seaway Lofts (the Sutton Companies), and Oswego County Today.com
“We really warmed up Oswego today. Despite what the thermometer says,” Vanouse said.