Skating, sweeping and slugging will be on tap Friday through Sunday as the city's Winter Fun Fest returns for another year.
The event was in question because the Common Council abolished the Youth and Recreation Department and cut back youth activities in the 2006 budget.
Mayor Michael W. Tucker said it was the city's intention to cancel the fest, but Joseph Speer of Gasport and Scott Leffler, a talk show host on WLVL Radio, took the lead in resuscitating it.
"Generally, it takes four or five weeks to put it together," Tucker said. "They put it together in about two weeks."
"It's actually bigger than it was before," said Speer, who played a role in founding the Taste of Niagara food festival here and has promoted many other Lockport-area events.
Speer said the idea started when he heard Leffler's program one day when Tucker was the guest. Speer called in to tease the mayor about his recent stomach-stapling surgery and resulting major weight loss. He suggested humorously that Tucker could join Speer's broomball team, the defending champions at the Winter Fun Fest.
When Tucker replied that the event was going to be canceled because of the city budget cuts, Speer and Leffler decided that would not stand.
"What we're doing it for is, there aren't enough events for the kids in the city. We didn't want to see another event get cut," Speer said. "The event's been going on for, I believe, 18 years."
Friday's activities will be centered in Altro Park on Willow Street, where the city's youth building will host an open house from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., with chowder, hot dogs, hot chocolate and candy apples being sold to benefit city youth programs. The Lakeside Blues Band will perform during the open house, with a special guest appearance by Council President John Lombardi III.
The broomball tournament will be held on the adjacent outdoor ice rink. Four teenage teams are to compete from 5 to 7 p.m., with four adult teams -- the Police Department, the Fire Department, the media and the J. Speer Renovation All-Stars -- taking the ice from 7 to 9 p.m. A free skate will follow the broomball. Also, the "Great Skate Donate" will seek to collect old ice skates to create a supply to be lent to kids who use the rink.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, a "snowball" game will be played on the Altro Park diamond.
At the same hour at Rogers Avenue Park, a kids' hockey skills competition will be held on the outdoor rink, co-sponsored by the Lockport High School hockey club and the Lockport Tigers youth hockey organization.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, the movie "Rocky III" will be shown in the Palace Theater, 2 East Ave. Tickets are $3, which includes an entry in a raffle for a pair of boxing gloves autographed by Jake LaMotta, the old-time middleweight featured in the movie "Raging Bull." The raffle tickets, for $1 each, will be sold at other festival events and are on sale in advance at Altro Park and several Lockport businesses.
The drawing for the gloves will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Kenan Arena on Beattie Avenue, which will be the focus of the final day's events.
Baby races will be held from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., and Pets Plus will host an indoor petting zoo and reptile display. The Lighthouse Junior Optimist Club and the Lockport YMCA teen leaders will be in charge of carnival games and face painting, while Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Niagara County will supervise a craft corner.
A chili cookoff will be held from noon to 3 p.m.