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WINTER FUN FEST SET FOR NEXT WEEKEND IN LOCKPORT; ORGANIZERS HAVE PLANNED 'SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE'

Having provided plenty of snow and cold, Mother Nature has set an appropriate stage for the sixth annual Winter Fun Fest, Friday through next Sunday.

The planning committee did not take that for granted, however, and has included plenty of events that don't depend on wintry weather.

"Some years, we've had wonderful weather, 30 degrees and light, fluffy snow, and some years we've had mud," said Laurie Ferris of the Lockport YMCA. "One year, we had like 3 below zero."

Highlighting the indoor schedule will be Sunday evening's closing event, the Donkey Basketball Game, with local teachers and school employees competing against the Lockport Circus Clowns while riding on live donkeys. The game will be held in Kenan Arena from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

"We must have had over 800 people there last year," Ferris said.

Friday's opening event is a Family Skate at Skateland, featuring free admission and a minimal charge for skate rental from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

As for music, Chris Burke and musical partners Joe and John De Masi will perform in Taylor Theater Auditorium at 7. Burke, best-known for his portrayal of Corky in the television series "Life Goes On," will present a concert emphasizing messages of love, inclusion and celebration.

Saturday's events will begin with the third annual Tim Speer Sr. Charity Coed Softball Tournament on the Kenan Center grounds, starting at 9 a.m.

For the youngest competitors in the Fun Fest, there will be indoor baby races from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in Kenan Arena. The event will have three divisions: Crawlers (6 to 12 months), Wobblers (12 to 18 months) and Toddlers (18 to 24 months). Registration is at 10 a.m.

For boys and girls ages 6 to 11, a soccer skills challenge will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration begins at 10:30.

Nature enthusiasts of all ages can take in the nature display in Kenan Arena from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., sponsored by the Niagara Region Interpretive Office of New York State Parks, as well as the wildlife rehabilitation display presented by members of Bless the Beasts Foundation. The latter presentation includes live birds of prey.

The Barker Lighthouse Junior Optimist Club will provide face painting, clowning and carnival games from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Kenan Arena. Also in that arena, after 11 a.m. and continuing until 3 p.m., will be a craft corner for children ages 3 to 10 sponsored by Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Niagara County, along with a Niagara County Sheriff's Department and national defense exhibit featuring a drug-awareness display and a Humvee.

From 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., members of the Balsa Dusters Model Airplane Club will present a model airplane exhibit. There also will be a chili cook-off.

Outdoor events on Saturday include a dog-sledding demonstration courtesy of the Siberian Husky Club of the Niagara Frontier; cross-country skiing and snowshoeing courtesy of Paths, Peaks and Paddles; a Civil War loading and firing demonstration given by members of the 49th New York Volunteers, Company B; and a petting zoo and wagon rides provided by Rick Kijandra.

Rick Pratt of Corfu will turn blocks of ice and wood into pieces of art during an ice-sculpting and woodcarving demonstration, and four teams from the Kenan Soccer League will battle each other and the elements in an exciting tournament.

At 3 p.m. in Taylor Theater, "Bubble Mania: A Soap Bubble Spectacular" will combine soap bubble artistry and science. Admission is $2.

"We don't plan to make money on any of the events," Ferris said. "We try to break even and keep the cost low."

On Saturday evening "Just Say No," a program for prevention of substance geared to grades 3 through 5, will be held in the Lockport YMCA from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. A middle school dance and skate will take place at Skateland from 7:30 to 11 p.m. for students in grades 6 through 8, with a $2 admission fee.

A country breakfast will be held from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Masonic Hall on Cottage Street. The all-you-can-eat meal will include pancakes, eggs, sausage, home fries, juice, coffee and doughnuts, with a charge of $5 for adults and $3 for children. Proceeds will benefit the City of Lockport's Fourth of July Parade and related activities.

Tickets for the Donkey Basketball Game are on sale at Kenan Arena, the Lockport YMCA and the Lockport Department of Youth and Recreation. Cost is $2 for adults and $1 for students.

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