The City of Leduc recently hosted its first-ever SNOW FESTIVAL. In this dynamic city that strives to plan and execute fun and interesting events all year-round. This winter event which focused on sports and heritage “was a natural”, shared Carley Graham, an enthusiastic member of the Community Development Team. Developed around the World Sledge Hockey Challenge that took place February 6, 7 and 8, Leduc’s Snow Festival was a huge success, greeting hundreds of local and regional families and winter-loving individuals.
Tickets were sold out for the World Sledge Hockey Challenge days prior to the Friday start of this exciting sports event. The action on the ice was fast and furious. Many volunteers, parents of Leduc Minor Hockey Initiation, Tom Thumb, Novice and Atom players coordinated the ‘mini games’ that took place during each game’s intermission. Jamie Vansickle was among the many enthusiastic volunteers. Her son Keegan an Atom player was chosen to do the Ceremonial Puck Drop while his younger brother Kash, a Novice player, played in one of the 3minute intermission games. She shared that, “It was exciting and memorable for our youngsters to play in front of a packed arena!”
‘The Taste Of Leduc’ was hosted by Kosmos Restaurant and the Best Western Denham Inn in the Leduc County fieldhouse. Extra seats were available for guests to view the Sledge Hockey Challenge Bronze and Gold Games on a large screen, while they enjoyed delicious snacks and refreshments.
Another great element of this first Snow Festival was the ‘Frozen Four Hockey Tournament’. Four hockey teams from across Alberta accepted the City of Leduc’s invite to come play hockey outdoors, a unique opportunity for kids nowadays. Despite the cold, young Pee-Wee hockey players enjoyed the warm hospitality of City of Leduc officials and the Kinsmen Hockey Rink. Rick Sereda, director of Public Services, shared that, “Our teams always maintain that ice surface but they deployed extra efforts to prepare the ice surface for this exciting tournament.”
It is fascinating to hear that the Leduc Zamboni was driven each day from and to the Leduc Rec Centre. Mandy Hatch, a recent addition to the LRC team, was the lucky Zamboni operator who got to drive it down the street at a speed of 7 km/hr, escorted by honks, cheers and stares.
Shauna Sturk is an enthusiastic hockey mom and wife of the Leduc Rep Peewee 2 Roughnecks team manager. She kindly offered some insight on the tournament, such as the fact that it was also a fundraiser for the Sledge Hockey Challenge through a 50/50 and team entry fees. Each team represented one of the countries of the Sledge Hockey Challenge that was ongoing simultaneously such as: Leduc – Canada, Calahoo-Riviere Qui Barre Knights Korea, Sherwood Park – US and Strathmore – Russia. Leduc Roughnecks team manager Gene Sturk added that, “Parents are the cornerstone of Minor Hockey. For this tournament we are extremely grateful to our sponsors Little Guy Oilfield Rentals, Boyd’s Excavating, Leduc Macdonald’s, Acre Rig Mats and Patcher Energy who supplied equipment, goodies and team prizes.”
Lee Smith is the father of Gavin (a grade six Peewee hockey player) and the Head Coach of the Strathmore Storm Hockey Team which brought fourteen players to this four-on-four Round Robin tournament. He was, “impressed with how well the tournament was organized,” happy to meet Mayor Krishke who did the Ceremonial Puck Drop and accepted on short notice to have his entire team pose for a photo op.
Another inspired idea of the Snow Festival brought several impressive ice sculptures created by an Edmonton artist, to a fenced-off area on the East side of the Leduc Recreation Centre. Many visitors enjoyed the display and as one visitor shared, “It is always fascinating to view ice art. These sculptures were awesome. Our kids really liked them too, especially the one of the sledge hockey player!”
As the City of Leduc community is rich in many cultures, the Heritage Activity welcomed visitors to share where they were born, get a little pin and place it on the appropriate map (thus entering a draw for a signed jersey of Bryce Salvador of the New Jersey Devils). The three large maps represented Alberta, Canada and the world. In the main hallway of the Recreation Centre, Elana Hansen was the dynamic City team member who looked after this interesting activity for the two days proudly shared, “This was so much fun! People love to tell their story and I was amazed by the origin of many of our local residents and visitors to the LRC.”
Once again, the City of Leduc has outdone itself offering our local residents and visitors from far and wide this new Snow Festival, an exciting opportunity to celebrate winter … in style!
Pictured: Ice carving and sledge hockey were just a couple of the many events headlining the Leduc Snow Festival. Photo by Tom Dirsa.