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A Pee-wee Herman look alike was shaking a snow dance in front of the Hyatt Regency Buffalo today, hoping to persuade the snow gods to visit Erie County by Friday and stay through Feb. 11.

"February Freeze," a series of winter events in downtown Buffalo, begins Friday. That will be followed by Erie County's 17th annual Winter Carnival, Feb. 9-11, at three county parks.

County Executive Gorski and Buffalo Place Executive Director Richard Reinhard joined the Pee-wee Herman look-alike in the snow dance, hoping the weather of the last few winters won't be repeated. The lack of snow prompted promoters this year to cancel Winterfest.

"February Freeze" begins the first of the three-day Western New York Snow Sculpting competition on Buffalo Place, from Court to Huron streets. Twenty sculptors are expected to compete. Winners will be announced at 4 p.m. Sunday in front of Norstar Bank.

There will be a Mardi Gras party beginning at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Convention Center sponsored by Up-Downtown, and the second annual Wing Ding is scheduled from 4 to 9 p.m. that day in the Hyatt. At 9:30 a.m. Feb. 9, the county executive will lead a team of high school runners carrying a torch to Chestnut Ridge to mark the beginning of the 17th annual Winter Carnival.

The hay rides through the park begin at 5:30 p.m. that day. For the more adventuresome, there will be snowmobile rides.

A Paul Bunyan Triathlon, featuring the pole climb and pulpwood throw, is planned for Saturday. Volunteer firefighters will compete in traditional tug-o-war competition, and there will be football, golf, basketball, baseball and hockey contests.

For the kids, Shenanigan's Shelter will be made into a fun house, and there will be dog cart rides, clowns. And a spectacular fireworks display is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12.

The annual March of Dimes Softball in the Snow Tournament will be held at Como Lake Park in Lancaster on Feb. 12 along with ice skating races beginning at 1:30 p.m.

Over at Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, the annual Boy Scouts Klondike Derby will be held along with a winter camping weekend for the area's Boy scouts. A 5-kilometer Cross-Country Classic Ski Race will be held at 9:45 a.m.

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