Whitefish Winter Carnival bolts out of the starting gate with royal coronations long before the actual weekend celebration. After all, the festival is one big excuse for a town party smack in the middle of winter. Might as well drag it out as long as possible.
Based on Whitefish’s own homegrown fragments of Norwegian mythology, King Ullr and Queen of the Snows, along with a vigorous entourage of lesser royalty, preside over the weekend of frivolity. Yetis revel in creating havoc, attempting to kidnap the royals, while Viking women plant big drippy kisses on citizens to protect them from pranks. In its 49th year, it’s still about as inane as it gets.
The festival packs the weekend with Nordic ski races, a penguin plunge, art walk, Canada-U.S. hockey games, a kiddie carnival, pancake breakfast, pie social, dinner and dance, snow skate jam, and a torchlight parade. But the spotlight hog is Saturday afternoon’s quirky Grand Parade—a hoopla of floats, tractors, fire trucks, dancers, and the Working Women of Whitefish Drill Team. And yes, there are horses and dogs, too.
Saturday, Feb. 2, crams in the fun-to-watch events. If you’re cold-blooded, head to City Beach at 10 am for the Penguin Plunge, a fundraiser for Special Olympics. Over 100 people sans wetsuits jump into Whitefish Lake’s icy waters. Since the beach has limited parking, a free bus runs continuously between the O’Shaughnessey Center and City Beach 10:00 am-12:30 pm.
Join crowds lining the streets to catch the Grand Parade at 3 p.m. as it winds down Second Street and Central Avenue. With this year’s theme “When the West was fun,” expect to see lots of spurs and cowboy hats.
Following the parade, the Yeti Snow Skate Jam starts up at the Kiddie Park across from the Post Office. Snow skaters hit 16 rails, boxes, and walls using a cross between snowboard and a skateboard.
It’s time for Whitefish’s antidote to the gray skies of winter. Time to let inanity rule.
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