BY SHERI TRUSTY
After an unseasonably warm week, winter sent bitterly cold winds to Port Clinton in time for Saturday’s 8th annual Burning Snowman Fest. Crowds poured into the city to watch Arlo, a 25-foot snowman, burn to the ground.
On Friday night, dozens of kids gathered with their families at Dock’s Beach House for Family Freeze, a mini Burning Snowman festival for kids.
“We had so much fun last year at Burning Snowman, we decided to come back this year and bring the kids for the family one,” said Rachel McGrady of Perrysburg. “But we’ll be back tomorrow for the adult one.”
Across the street at Mr. Ed’s Bar and Grille, local elected officials competed in the Ottawa County Republican Party Chili Cook Off. All of the proceeds were donated to county Republican candidate campaigns.
“This is our second year,” said Connie Focht, who helped host the event. “We had a ball. It turned out so well last year we did it again this year.”
Ottawa County Sheriff Stephen Levorchick bubbled up a first place recipe with his homemade and home-harvested Venison Chili. State Senator Theresa Gavarone placed second with her Bourbon Bacon Chili, and Ottawa County Auditor Jennifer Widmer placed third with her Homestyle Family Chili.
While the Republicans were keeping things hot at Mr. Ed’s, kids were having fun in the cold during the Family Freeze at Dock’s Beach House. They watched sculptor Matthew Larsen turn a block of ice into a frozen snowman, had their faces painted by Hannah Witte and Marisol Fick, made s’mores on the beach, and tested their strength during a mock casualty rescue challenge hosted by Team VIAC Training Center, a nonprofit fitness gym in Port Clinton that supports military veterans causes. During the challenge, kids attempted to pull a heavy pack – representing a wounded soldier – through the sand.
Nine-year-old Lincoln Wheeler of Port Clinton had a bit of assistance from his dad, Khalan Wheeler, as he tugged the pack across the beach.
“It was pretty hard. It was uphill, so my dad had to help me,” Lincoln said.
Inside Dock’s, Coffee Express sold hot chocolate, hot coffee, pastries and their locally famous granola bars. Lateral Gig sold Burning Snowman merchandise.
“We have t-shirts, sweatshirts, tumblers, keychains – just everything,” said Lateral Gig Production Manager Kaley Daniel.
Outside, Angel Fry of Bowling Green was just happy to be back in Port Clinton.
“I’ve come to Burning Snowman the last few years, and I saw they had a family event, so I brought my family this year,” she said. “I love Port Clinton.”
Emily Londer, 8, of Port Clinton wasn’t quite as enthusiastic as Fry. She enjoyed making s’mores, but she wasn’t too excited about watching the Family Freeze snowmen go up in flames.
“I like this, but I’m not happy about the snowmen getting burned. It’s sad,” Londer said.