A rescue dive team will demonstrate how they rescue someone from the ice. PHOTO COURTESY LEOMINSTER RECREATION DEPARTMENT
A rescue dive team will demonstrate how they rescue someone from the ice. PHOTO COURTESY LEOMINSTER RECREATION DEPARTMENT

Get some fresh air, exercise and learn a thing or two about winter safety at Barrett Park this Saturday, Feb. 23.

The Leominster Recreation Department, Project Apples, Leominster Trail Stewards, Leominster Fire Department, Emergency Management and Boy Scouts are joining together to offer a free winter event at the park, located at 40 Barrett Parkway in Leominster, from noon to 2 p.m.

"It gives people the opportunity to get outside, enjoy fresh air and enjoy nature and enjoy exercise," Recreation Director Judith Sumner said.

A bonfire and hot cocoa will be provided by Emergency Management along with plenty of fun activities.

Project Apples has been part of the event every year since it began. This year, it plans on doing interactive activities for kids to enjoy, including a scavenger hunt around the park along with a guided Story Walk.

"It's great for parents looking for something for their children to do, and it's all free," Sumner said.

There will also be guided hikes around the 39.92-acre park.

"The Leominster Trail Stewards have been working very hard, putting some new trails around the park," she said.

Sumner said the trails range from 3 miles to a little less than a mile. If it's snowy or icy Saturday, she recommends those planning on hiking to put cleats on their boots for safety.

"It depends on how far people want to walk," she said. "Two or three different Trail Stewards members will lead a hike depending on what people are looking for.


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Hike through the trails around Barrett Pond. PHOTO COURTESY LEOMINSTER RECREATION DEPARTMENT
Hike through the trails around Barrett Pond. PHOTO COURTESY LEOMINSTER RECREATION DEPARTMENT
It's a healthy exercise for people to do. They've also built some bridges to cross over the water, and it's a beautiful time of year to see the waterfall one of the trails brings you up to."

Depending on temperatures and if the pond has at least 7 inches of ice closest to the shoreline, a maintenance person for the park will clear off a section for people to go ice skating.

However, if the cold isn't cooperating, the show will still go on.

"That's why we did a whole variety of different activities," Sumner said. "Growing Places and Project Apples will still read a story and still do activities so, hopefully, we'll be doing some things no matter what."

Along with enjoying the scenery, emergency personnel will show how they perform ice rescues on Barrett Pond, also known as Colburn Reservoir.

A rescue dive team will go out in full gear and show how they rescue someone who has fallen through the ice.

"They do the rescue, then the Emergency Management team brings their hovercraft that floats on top of the ice," Sumner said. "It's nice when it's both open water and ice to see how it skims across the surface and gets out there really fast if you fall through a distance from shore."

Boy Scouts in Troop 11 will demonstrate how to make ice-rescue claws by taking a piece of wood or a branch, drilling holes for a spike and a rope to put around your neck.

"It's nice for if you are ice fishing, and a lot of people go ice fishing there recently, or if you're ice skating," Sumner said.

The Scouts will also build snow shelters or igloos if there is snow, and demonstrate how to make a shelter for any time of the year.

Again, depending on the amount of snow, everyone can build a snowman. Sumner suggested using items found in the park, like sticks and stones, to decorate and be creative.

All activities will be going on at the same time.

"I think it's important for people if they have the time to get out in the winter and get some fresh air and exercise, and also to see what the park looks like in the wintertime," Sumner said.

Email juliasarcinelli@outlook.com if you have any upcoming events in Central Massachusetts or the Merrimack Valley that you would like to be featured in Best Bets.