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Carnival highlights season's bright side

A chili challenge, a land demonstration by the U.S. Water Ski Show Team and performances by local musicians highlight this year's Winter Carnival set for Saturday, Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The free event takes place at two locations, Maple Ski Ridge in Rotterdam and Central Park in Schenectady, as part of a partnership between the Schenectady County Legislature and the city of Schenectady.

Maple Ski Ridge will also offer discount area-use tickets beginning at 3 p.m.

This is the first year we're doing this to this extent, said Schenectady Mayor Brian Stratton. "We have a number of corporate sponsors donating equipment for kids to learn to skate so we'll cross our fingers that we'll have good weather for the event. It's the kids' vacation week from school, and it should be a great day of fun."

At Maple Ski Ridge, families can participate in a number of activities, including ice-skating, softball and snowball pitching contests, skiing, snowshoeing and a special appearance by Southpaw and Pappy Southpaw, mascots for the Tri-City Valley Cats minor league baseball team.

Goldstock's Sporting Goods of Glenville will be conducting snowshoe demonstrations, and a Snowshoe Sprint for kids and NY Capital Region Geocachers will present a treasure hunt, where families can learn about global positioning systems (GPS) and geocaching, an outdoor game in which participants use a GPS receiver find containers, called geocaches, anywhere in the world.

"Think of it as a high-tech treasure hunt," said Wendy Voelker, Schenectady County special events coordinator. "Kids will have the chance to find little gifts, trinkets, T-shirts and other prizes."

Maple Ridge staff will also be hitting the slopes, offering learn-to-ski lessons, a snowboard demo and a Rail Jam in the terrain park. Pre-registration for ski lessons is required by Friday, Feb. 22.

The Mariaville Cattle Company bluegrass band will perform from noon to 3 p.m. at Maple Ski Ridge. Radio Disney will also provide entertainment for children in the lodge.

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