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Chilling out in April Emergent end-of-winter festival offers a chance to celebrate spring

File this idea under "any excuse for a party." Then go party. For the fifth year, a few diehard entrepreneurs for whom winter dies hard are rallying the festive-minded to celebrate the symbolic, if not actual, turn of the seasons to spring.

"Boom Days," a festival weekend strung along the waterfront to mark the removal of the ice boom that's strung across the head of the Niagara River each winter, will be held from April 13 through April 15 -- regardless of the weather.

OK, so it's supposed to snow a little this weekend. Apparently nature didn't get the word that spring is supposed to arrive around St. Patrick's Day here, and that we really don't appreciate flurries on baseball's Opening Day. By cleverly waiting a little longer, Boom Days organizers Clint Brown and Rick Smith are hedging their bets to make sure the boom -- removed each year after aerial inspection reveals enough Lake Erie ice has melted -- is actually out.

They're on to something. Brown, a preservation architect, rightly notes that "the future of this community is recentering itself on the waterway." Smith, a waterfront businessman, knows that some folks think the boom -- which promotes a lake ice bridge that hinders river floes that used to clog power intakes and scour shorelines -- keeps this area colder, longer. But, he adds, "whether it's good or bad, it comes out, and we should celebrate spring."

This year, events will be held at 14 locations along the length of the river. "Flagship" sites include the CPO Club near the foot of Porter Avenue in Buffalo on April 13, the LaSalle Yacht Club on April 14 and the Youngstown Yacht Club on April 15. Events range from live music to fireworks (this year, they'll remember to tell Homeland Security) to poetry contests, and there's even the launch of a large red floating ball at the head of the river to mark the opening (mysteriously, only one has ever been recovered, below the falls).

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