WATERVILLE — A winter Sunday, with fresh new snow that fell overnight, turned into Winter Fun Day at Quarry Road Trails in Waterville.

The free community event, hosted by the city of Waterville with support from Friends of Quarry Road, Inland Hospital, Common Street Arts, and Kennebec Messalonskee Trails, was the third and final Community Ski Free Day scheduled for the 2017-2018 winter season.

Organizers provided free snowshoes to loan, ski equipment rentals, snacks, and information about Quarry Road and it’s many outdoor offerings.

“It’s perfect,” said Jeff Melanson, an events coordinator and a member of the board for Quarry Road Trails. “We had about four inches of fresh snow that they just groomed this morning. We do this three times a year — it’s bringing more and more people to Waterville. It’s an economic driver for Waterville, part of the whole rebirth of Waterville — this is part of it. Colby hosts events here and we’ve got people from all over the state.”

The area offers 8.2 miles of world-class, groomed Nordic ski trails and additional miles of backcountry snowshoe and hiking trails.

Waterville Creates! had an activity for kids to make snowflake art Sunday and Inland Hospital sponsored a Let’s Go 5210 family fun event — the healthy habits message for children, meaning five or more fruits and vegetables every day, two or fewer hours of screen time, one hour of physical activity and zero sugary drinks, said Baylee Doughty, the community health coordinator at Inland.

“We have corn hole where you throw a bean bag into one of the holes, snowman beanbag toss and we have some free snowshoe rentals as well as a story walk, a story that kids can walk and follow,” Doughty said. “It’s nice out; there’s not very much wind — it’s great. It’s a nice day outside.”

Families began showing up at Quarry Road under a bright blue sky Sunday at about 10 a.m., many with their own cross-country skies and sleds, ready for a full day outside with temperatures running in the low 30s. By 11:30 more than 50 cars had parked in the lot, emptying moms, dads and kids clattering skis and snow sleds behind them.

Some of the younger skiers, like Elliot Stepp, 8, of Winslow, were out on the trails for only the first or second time, learning the sport as they went.

“I’ve done it before — one time,” Elliot said of cross-country skiing. “I think the conditions are pretty good. We’re going to go sledding and we’re also going to go snowshoeing.”

Elsewhere on the snow on Sunday, around a command post and warming center set up in a large yurt, folks lounging around a fire pit, munching on healthy snacks and enjoying the fresh air.

“Healthy snacks — we’ve got pretzels, some homemade hummus, some vegetables,” said Karen Weese, of Canaan. “We came to hang out. We’ve been snowshoeing around the area and just checking everything out. I think it’s awesome. It’s great to see everybody out. The weather couldn’t be better.”

Just down the road from the yurt and activities village on Sunday, a couple of dozen people — more families with little kids — were careening down the sliding hill on sleds and tubes, picking up speed as they went. The pace was fast, with some sledders whiteing-out and wiping out with a tumble at the end.

Jude Violette, of Oakland, sailed down the hill in a jet sled, accompanied by his two children, Avery, 3, and Brooklyn, 5.

“It was great — conditions are awesome,” Violette said. “I thought the ride was great. It’s great that they put this event on today; great for the community. We’re happy.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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