DENNISON TWP. — A winter festival at Nescopeck State Park brought residents out to enjoy seasonal activities including meeting a sled dog team, enjoying a chainsaw carving demonstration and hiking near the lake.
Paula Long, who teaches environmental education at Bear Creek Charter School, brought 28 children to the event, 25 percent of the school’s middle school students.
Dylan Jasulevicz, a seventh grader at the school, said his favorite part of the day was seeing sled dogs up close.
“It was cold at first when we got here,” he said. “But it got a little better after a while. It was fun.”
Diane Madl, a state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources environmental education specialist, said the park has held the event for “at least 20 years,” and that it was generally well attended.
“It’s a great chance to beat the winter blues,” said Madl. “I just led a 45-minute hike and 25 people participated.”
Madl said organizers of the event always hope for snow, but their wish didn’t come true this year.
“We worked around it,” she said. “Instead of actually getting on snowshoes, we provided attendees with information on how they are used and a bit of historical background.”
Ava Groth, 12, said she enjoyed all the day’s activities, but most enjoyed assisting with painting the mural.
Mother Stacey Acri said the family, with a love for the outdoors, often comes to the park to make memories and learn about nature.
“My children will always remember learning to fish at the lake with their grandfather,” she said.
The family, she said, also enjoyed a Dennison Township Fire Department demonstration, getting to meet the crew and see a fire truck up close.
John Maday, who heads the Wilkes-Barre’s Riverfront Parks Committee, was volunteering at the event to support the DCNR. “They are often a presence at our events throughout the year, so we come out to support them.”
Maday said the event was a great reminder that environmental education shouldn’t stop in the winter.
He said the Riverfront Committee is also sponsoring a winter event later this month, as a continuing opportunity for families to get out of the house and be active in spite of colder temperatures.
Maday, too, is hoping for a bit of snow as a backdrop for that event.
Many attendees have made the event an annual tradition and were eager to share a memory or two.
Gina Drasher, of Drums, said she tried snowshoeing several years ago and found it a bit challenging.
“I was walking and I forgot that I had all that shoe in front of me,” she said. “I went right over — boom.”
Many warmed up at an indoor display providing information about local environmental organization, before heading back out into the freezing temperatures.
Jessica Wykoff, representing Hazleton’s Rails to Trails, said the event was a great forum to familiarize people with such organizations.
“People that came out today are generally interested in the outdoors,” she said. “They were enthusiastic.”