Logan Vogt gives a thumbs up as he falls into the dunk tank set up as part of Sylvan Lake's Winterfest celebrations on Saturday. The dunk tanks represented a change for the town's annual Polar Bear Dip

Family Day events in Sylvan Lake, Blackfalds raise money for charities

With the maple leaf on his chest, a Canadian pride-filled Logan Vogt psyched himself up and sat ready to face his competition on Saturday.

With the maple leaf on his chest, a Canadian pride-filled Logan Vogt psyched himself up and sat ready to face his competition on Saturday.

What he was about to do — get dumped into a dunk tank in sub-zero temperatures — is not an Olympic sport, of course, but perhaps it should be. The 29 dippers who took the plunge at Sylvan Lake’s Winterfest on Saturday required a certain amount of fortitude and inner strength, after all. And the weather in Central Alberta Saturday was certainly more conducive to a Winter Olympics than the sun and swaying palms in Sochi.

Concerns over thin ice on the lake caused the annual polar dip at Winterfest to be moved off of the water body and into the dunk tanks this year, which led to fewer people taking part. But, said organizer Jennifer Bickell, no one backed out when the change was announced two weeks ago, and those who participated still managed to raise $20,701 for local charities.

The use of the dunk tanks allowed for another fundraising initiative as well, as money from ball sales went to the town’s Hockeyville campaign.

Vogt raised over $200 for minor hockey in Sylvan through his participation, and was shocked to learn while sitting above the tank that he there was a “payback” seeker in the crowd only too eager to hasten his frigid swim.

“I was like, ‘I don’t even know you!’” he laughed.

Family Day Monday, meanwhile, was balmy and many came out for festivities across Central Alberta.

In Blackfalds, the holiday presented a chance for many residents to get a look inside the newest addition to the town’s recreational family. Over 2,000 people came out for some outdoor fun around the Abbey Centre, and between trying their hand at the activities — ranging from ice sculpting to a treasure hunt in a snow pile — they could get a sneak peek inside the $15 million multipurpose exercise and recreation facility located in the town’s west end.

Wiring was done for the facility last week, and the first fitness classes offered at the rec centre get underway today. The target date for the full opening is March 17; from then on residents will be able to avail themselves of a full gymnasium, fitness centre, running track, separate walking track, and an impressive indoor play space for children.

The outdoor aquatic elements connected to the Abbey Centre are expected to open in time for the May long weekend. Those features include a lane pool, spray park, two waterslides, and a hot tub.

There was a tub present at Blackfalds’ Winterfest too, but it was anything but hot. Eleven brave souls hopped into the pool as part of the ‘Penguin Dip’ event, having raised money for charities to take part. Participants raised funds for STARS, the Blackfalds Block Parent program, and the town’s subsidization program for recreational activities.

Up until 2007, Alberta was the only province to have a statutory holiday in February, but now Saskatchewan, Ontario and B.C. all have February Family Days. In Manitoba the holiday is called Louis Riel Day and P.E.I. celebrates Islander Day.

In Nova Scotia, a mid-winter statutory holiday will be on the calendar for the first time next year, and in that province the holiday will go by a different name every year. The first holiday will be called Viola Desmond Day, in honour of a provincial civil rights leader.

mfish@bprda.wpengine.com

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