Students, city residents come out for ‘Warm Up Oswego’

Half-naked Neanderthals raced down West First Street on Feb. 6 during the fifth annual Warm-Up Oswego festival in downtown Oswego. The Neanderthals part of the costume sled race were one of the many activities going on all day Saturday at the YMCA armory.

Over 500 people attended the festival despite the cold weather. Jackie Sheffield, the membership director at the YMCA, said that attendance was "on par with previous years."

Some activities had participants running a 2K race down East and West First Streets. Dan Phoenix, an Oswego State meteorology major, won first place in the race coming in with a 4:37 time. "I’d just like to get some warm clothes on," Phoenix said after the race, as temperatures were hovering near zero.

Other events were volleyball games in the snow, figure skating, frozen football, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts and several demonstrations by local groups from the city and the college. Many people also came out for the fireworks at 6 p.m. behind the armory. Several hundred people piled up in the cars watching the fireworks while others braved the cold and stood outside.

One participant, Charles Smith, a senior theater major at Oswego, was part of the "Songs for a New World" demonstration at the event.

This is the third year we’ve been here," Smith said. "It’s a really good marketing opportunity for our spring musical."

Smith and the theater group were just some of the many Oswego State students who were volunteering at the event. Deana Masuicca, the executive director of the YMCA, headed the event. She said there were 50 -60 people volunteering at the event.

The festival is put on by the YMCA, the city of Oswego Office of Community Development and local businesses.

"When we started, our intention was to have a downtown festival to get more business downtown in the middle of winter," Mary Vanouse, director of community development, said.

"We also did this to help the YMCA with armory renovations," she said.

Planning for the event starts around the end of August, according to Linda Goodness, the assistant director of community development who has been working on Warm-Up Oswego for three years.

"After Christmas I think that it’s hard to get people out," Goodness said, "It’s nice to have life in the city in the winter."

"If we could get more people and more sponsorship from in town … we could bring it [the festival] over the top," Vanouse said.

The next Warm-Up Oswego meeting is Thursday, Feb. 18 at the YMCA armory at 9:15 a.m. and is open to the public.