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Moosestompers continues despite cold, snow

HOULTON, Maine — Activities for the planned three-day Moosestompers Weekend Feb. 2-4 were cancelled or condensed into one day after cold and snow forced organizers to rethink their plans. 

Due to the severe wind chills and the cold temperatures predicted for Friday and Saturday, some of the outdoor events were cancelled or rescheduled to Sunday.

Tony Mignone, meteorologist at the National Weather Service Caribou office, said that the high on Friday registered at 30 degrees, while the low was 1 degree below zero. On Saturday, the high temperature was 8 degrees, with the low at 9 degrees below zero.

Nighttime sliding on Derby Hill was canceled Friday evening, while the ATV/UTV/snowmobile parade originally scheduled for Friday was moved to Sunday at noon.

The majority of Saturday’s outdoor events — sliding, snow sled rides and horse-drawn carriage rides — were rescheduled to Sunday. The bonfire set for Saturday also was moved to Sunday afternoon.

Nancy Ketch, one of the organizers of the event, said that some events that were scheduled to be held indoors, including public skating and the Read To Me Challenge, continued. She said that she and the other organizers believed that the event went well despite the challenges and that they made the proper decision in cancelling some of the events due to the forecast.

“We got lots of compliments from participants about the festivities, which was nice,” she said. “And with the cold predicted to be what it was, we just couldn’t take chances. Especially with the half-dollar scramble. In that event, children often take off their gloves to dig through the snow. We can’t risk them getting frostbite or something.”

A light snow fell throughout Sunday’s festivities in Community Park as children scuttled around searching for hidden half-dollar coins and prizes  hidden in stacks of hay, skating or joining adults who were snow sledding, snowshoeing or sliding on the Derby Hill.

Holly Henderson and her daughter Jessica Mitchell, 9, of Houlton, did not let the snowy weather stop them on Sunday. Both mother and daughter had enjoyed a free movie at the Temple Theater earlier in the day, and a horse drawn sleigh ride in the park.

“I brought my sled so that I could go down the sliding hill,” said Mitchell. “I love it.”

“Every year for the past two years, she has loved sliding down that hill,” said Henderson. “We have come once or twice in the years prior, but she has always been too cold to stay too long. She is finally getting old enough to enjoy it.”

Jason McAfee of Houlton brought his son, Robbie, 7, to the event after he read that the Houlton Parks and Recreation Department was sponsoring free cross country skiing for local children.

“I love cross country skiing,” he said. “My girlfriend and I go as often as we can. I thought this would be a great opportunity to slowly introduce my son to it and see if he likes it. There are not many chances like this in this area to do that.”

Ketch said that organizers already have one wish for next year.

“We wish we could control the weather,” she said.

This was the 22nd time the celebration has been held in Houlton.

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