NORTH ABINGTON TWP. — The fresh coating of snow set the wintry scene on Lackawanna State Park for the annual Winterfest Feb. 8. Ice rescue demos, dog sledding demos and trail hikes provided outdoor fun on this chilly day. The event had a couple of new features this year as the Keystone Composite Co-ed Mountain Bike Team, an interscholastic mountain bike team for students in grades 6-12, had a guided bike ride through the Kennedy Creek bridges, the Lee Hill Trail and Ranger Trail.
Joseph Watson, one of the team’s coaches, helped lead the ride.
“It keeps you active in the community,” Watson said. “We also like to help our younger generation learn the responsibility of trail usage and maintenance of trails.”
Watson’s daughter Gabriella, a seventh-grade student at Mid Valley who has been a member of Keystone Composite for two years, rode her bike through the trails with her father and friends.
“I like it a lot,” Gabriella said. “I find it very relaxing.”
The mountain bike team meets at the park’s balloon launch during mountain bike season from July to November. The members have structured workouts on Mondays and Thursdays and, on Saturdays, they form a big group and ride a trail. Then, they have a get-together like a picnic.
The partly frozen lake made it possible for the Lackawanna County Dive Rescue Specialists, Inc., of Scott Twp., to do its ice rescue demo. President Bill White explained the current condition of the lake.
“The ice is very bad right now,” White said about the thin, translucent ice covering. “The ice on the upper part of the lake right now is rotting. Clear ice that you can see through is the strongest.”
White first demonstrated a reach pole the team has used on dogs and deer that have fallen through an icy body of water. Rescue diver Bob Chase wore a dry suit also known as a type 5 PFD (personal flotation device). He said that, despite the suit, he still needed to wear layers of clothing to keep warm when he did an ice rescue demonstration on the lake.
“I’ve been doing this for years,” he said about ice rescue demonstrations.
White educated the public about the dry suit.
“This is what we use for a swiftwater rescue, but we also use it for an ice rescue,” he said.
The winter fun continued with a dog sledding demonstration by the Howling Huskies. Quakertown resident Bryan Heitz, owner of five rescue Siberian huskies, showed people how to ride a sled being pulled by the dogs. His 2-year-old son Caleb joined him on the ride.
“It’s such fun letting the people see the dogs,” said Bryan.
Winterfest had indoor fun, as well. New this year, Ron Kozlowski, a fly tyer of Nicholson, had a fly tying demonstration stand called Ron’s Flies. He makes fishing flies out of feathers, furs, and synthetics and does fly tying for both a hobby and extra income.
“I love it,” Kozlowski said. “I’ve been doing it for over 50 years.”
In the same room, students from the Keystone College Service Club volunteered to help kids make arts and crafts based on wildlife. Kids colored pictures of animals, such as raccoons, ducks and fish. They also made heart-shaped owls for Valentine’s Day and, for Groundhog Day, they make groundhogs out of stockings, styrofoam balls, googly eyes, pipe cleaners and cotton balls.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to give out to the community because there’s a lack of support of people to help,” said Keystone College junior Noelis Taveras, who is majoring in public health.
Devin Welch, president of the service club, and Emily Sandley, vice president, cooked food such as Sloppy Joes, baked beans and pizza.
“The kids like it because they get something to eat after coming in from the cold,” said Sandley.
The service club donated part of the proceeds from the food to the park.