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Chill out at Saratoga National Historic Park's Frost Faire

When Clark Dalzell got out of the Navy and was considering a career, he thought back to the summers he spent working at Saratoga National Historic Park. Dalzell had always enjoyed his time at the park, so he decided to become a ranger.

Dalzell spent 38 years at the park, eventually becoming the trails director. His enthusiasm for his work never waned. In fact, even though he retired this year, he's coming back Saturday, Jan. 22, for the annual Frost Faire to reprise his always-popular scavenger hunt. Playing the part of a park ranger, Dalzell will help kids find candy and other hidden treats.

It's kind of funny, he said. "I came in as a park ranger and now I'm imitating one."

The Frost Faire hasn't been part of the park as long as Dalzell has; it's entering only its 16th year. But its roots stretch back much further than that. Popular in the 1700s, Frost Faires gave people a chance to escape cabin fever by socializing and sharing food and drinks with friends.

In that spirit, the Frost Faire, which kicks off at 10:30 a.m., will offer cookies, cheese and cocoa around a bonfire all day. There will also be sledding, provided there's enough snow. Kids and adults are invited to bring snow tubes (no sleds or toboggans) to use on the park's big hill.

"Kids have a ball," Dalzell said. "They take about 100 trips down an hour."

Even if there isn't enough snow for sledding, visitors can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides and games such as ice bowling, a giant soldier puzzle and bottle fishing.

Ice bowling is pretty much what it sounds like, according to Ranger Bill Valosin: you try to knock down pins set up on the ice. The giant soldier puzzle, meanwhile, is geared toward young kids, with easy-to-handle pieces.

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