This adorable pupper was one of the dozens trundling around the streets of Rossland during the winter carnival. (John K. White/Castlegar News)

John White: Rossland Winter Carnival warmed the heart

It was my first foray into this fabled gathering, and I wasn't disappointed.

If you were one of the few people who didn’t make it to Rossland for their annual Winter Carnival last weekend, you missed quite the happening.

It was my first foray into this fabled gathering, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The most notable spectacle for me was the Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race, held for some 120 years. For those who have never been, it’s a mind-blowing sight. Racers take to homemade sleds and hurtle themselves down Spokane Street hoping to cross the finish line in the fastest time. Really they’re just trying to finish without crashing and have a blast while doing so.

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Since a serious crash involving a spectator injured several people at last year’s event, organizers went above and beyond to improve safety at the event this year and the changes were welcome additions. They added snow walls, extra snow fencing, and they were extra vigilant in making sure spectators did not go anywhere near the course during active runs… Well except for the random free-roaming dogs that were running about.

To see speeding sleds flying down a street normally populated by cars and pedestrians was intensely thrilling. Feeling the whoosh of the air as they flew by and the roar of the runners of the sleds on the ice and snow were electrifying. Many of the sleds displayed extra-creative design elements, including the Rossland Fire Department sled with fully functioning lights.

READ MORE: Albohaulics claim victory at Sonny Samuelson Bobsled Race

A close second for awesome was the ski and snowboard run that was set up on a side street downtown that saw area sliders show off their epic skills. It was super cool to be able to grab a latte and wander over to see the skill on display up close.

The food vendors and restaurants stepped things up with tasty treats perfect for the cool, snowy winter weekend. The aroma of freshly-cooked delicacies filled the air, mingling with the smoke from various wood fires burning to warm appreciative patrons. We started our coverage day Saturday at the pancake breakfast at the fire hall, and the glow from the gathered families was inspiring.

One of my other favourite aspects of Winter Carnival had nothing specific to do with the event. Many attendees made it to the event with their puppers and doggos in tow. There were many hilarious meetings of the hinds throughout the weekend, and you couldn’t move half a block without encountering an adorable pooch looking for scritches.

But the overall best element of the event was what it did for those in attendance. I can’t recall the last time I witnessed so much joy on display at a carnival. Despite the wet conditions on Saturday, there were hundreds of people with giant smiles wandering the streets and exploring area shops and stores. Children were having the greatest time. Adults appeared more subdued but occasionally fits of laughter could be heard. Parking downtown is always a challenge during the carnival, but people were chill and helped each other find spots.

This combination of joy and community spirit warmed me, and I joined the throngs with a wide smile as I wrapped my time there late Saturday afternoon. Well done, carnival organizers, that was a great time.

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