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OLMSTED WINTERFEST BECKONS WITH FUN FOR ALL

Sledding, skating, snowmobiling, golf, hayrides, softball, ice sculpting, chili cook-off, partying -- you name it.

Snow or no snow, if it involves having fun it's almost sure to be found in the ever-expanding annual Olmsted Winterfest, which will officially open Friday in Delaware Park and run through Monday -- the Presidents Day holiday.

The fourth annual Hunter's Day of Hope for Children, from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in Chestnut Ridge Park Casino, will highlight pre-Winterfest activities.

Hosted by former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly and his wife, Jill, the event -- concluding with a candlelight ceremony -- will call attention to the couple's campaign to find a cure for Krabbe's disease. Their son, Hunter, who turns 4 Wednesday, was born with the illness.

The Winterfest prelude will continue with Thursday's senior citizens luncheon and dance in the Connecticut Street Armory. Tickets can be reserved at 858-8315.

A fish fry from 5-8 p.m., opening ceremony at 7:45 and fireworks at 8:05 Friday will kick off weekend activities near Hoyt Lake. The opening night program also includes the Winterfest cocktail party starting at 5:30 in Marcy Casino. Admission to the party is $25 and can be arranged by calling 851-5806. Winterfest information also is available at that number.

City officials have devised a new automobile-friendly plan to accommodate 150,000 people expected to participate in the Delaware Park festival -- the most in the event's seven-year history.

Parking will be permitted on both sides of Lincoln Parkway and Forest Avenue between Elmwood and Delaware avenues from Friday through Monday. A free shuttle will operate continuously along those routes, taking visitors to and from the park.

Parking will be available on the park ring road from 12:30 to 4 p.m., with shuttles running to and from event sites.

Shuttle service will be provided Saturday between the park and Canisius College's Koessler Athletic Center, site of the festival cheerleading contest, and Sunday -- Cultural Day -- between the park and several cultural venues, including the Buffalo Museum of Science and the Theodore Roosevelt National Inaugural Historic Site.

Winterfest is produced by the Police Athletic League of Buffalo in conjunction with the city and county parks departments.

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