BRIDGTON — Phil Dutra offered his girlfriend, Julie Torre, a choice of vacations this winter: Bermuda and its pink sand beaches or a ride on a dog sled.

Which explained their presence at the Greater Bridgton Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce 15th Maine Lakes Mushers Bowl in Bridgton on Saturday. Torre said the winter carnival turned out to be much more fun than sitting on a tropical beach.

“It’s a nice community thing. We had breakfast at the Congregational Church and now we are waiting for our dog sled ride,” said Torre.

The Dartmouth, Mass., couple were among those who turned out for the first day of the two-day annual event, which ended Sunday.

Even though the lack of deep snow postponed the dog sled racing events until next month and shut down the snowmobile trail rides, there was enough snow on the ground for the fun to go on, including dog sled and snowmobile rides on Highland Lake.

“It’s going great,” said Jim Mains, chamber of commerce executive director.

Hundreds of people showed up despite snow showers and single-digit temperatures to participate in events around town. They hiked by snowshoe up Bald Pate Mountain, rode in horse-drawn carriages, competed to place in an ice fishing contest and guzzled down gallons of hot cocoa.

“It’s about getting outside to enjoy the winter,” said Chris Webb of Bridgton.

Attendees bundled up in colorful deep-freeze fashions. Fur-lined bombers appeared to be part of the required costume. Patch Knowles-Lane of Fryeburg braved the arctic temperatures bare-legged in a kilt.

“Because if you wear anything under it, is not a kilt but a skirt,” said Knowles-Lane.

Sixty-five people raised $22,000 in the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter’s Freezing for a Reason polar dip, a new record. The animal shelter was among a number of nonprofit groups that piggyback on the winter carnival to raise funds. Last year’s polar dip raised $17,000 for the Fryeburg animal shelter.

Mary and Dale Taylor ventured to the event from Yarmouth to give Dale Taylor’s brother, Roger Taylor of Iowa, his first live dog-sled experience.

“I wish I went south to go golfing instead,” said Roger Taylor, pulling up his hood and laughing.

The carnival continued Saturday with a dodge ball massacre, baked bean supper, table tennis tournament and other activities.

Sunday’s events began at 10 a.m. at Highland Lake Beach, with another snowshoe hike up Bald Pate Mountain at Five Fields Farm, Route 107.

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