The weather in recent years hasn’t always cooperated for Buffalo’s winter festivals.
Not enough snow one year, rain another.
But Mother Nature finally got it right Saturday for the Olmsted Parks Conservancy’s fourth annual Flurrious festival.
A week of arctic temperatures and numbing wind chills made Saturday’s high of 36 degrees feel almost springlike, and inspired a few thousand people to head outdoors to Delaware Park and soak in the festivities.
“This is much better,” Lacey Buscaglia of Amherst said of Saturday’s weather. “We’re sick of being in the house.”
“It’s been a tough winter, for sure,” said Nancy Duke of Amherst, after finishing the 2-mile run that started at 9 a.m. “I think that’s why there is such a good turnout today – people want to take advantage of the warmer temperatures while they can.”
And Flurrious had a little bit of everything you might want in a Buffalo winter festival.
Snow soccer, snow tennis, snow golf.
A fun run and food trucks and bike ride.
Live music and beer under a heated tent.
Snowman-making, a Quidditch tournament – think Harry Potter – and kickball.
“Stuff like this is awesome, especially after the past couple of days,” said Leah Wzientek, of Buffalo. “It’s nice being able to come outside for more than three minutes.”
What Duke called “perfect running weather” drew a number of kickball teams to the area behind the Parkside Lodge, where members of the “Menace II Sobriety” team put up a valiant effort in what was ultimately a losing cause.
“We’re not going to tell you what the score was,” said Marisa Todaro of the Town of Tonawanda. “It’s all for a good cause, to raise money for the Olmsted Parks.”
One player brought a portable propane heater for players to warm up by on the sidelines.
But Todaro said, “It’s not even that cold today.”
Lauris and Walter Kerruish, sons of Sarah and John Kerruish of Buffalo, looked wide-eyed at all the activity as they took in the events at their first Flurrious. The boys arrived in Buffalo from Latvia in July and already speak excellent English.
Though the climate in Latvia is similar to here, when Walter, 7, and Lauris, 9, saw their first snow, Lauris was astonished that it was being blown horizontally, said John Kerruish.
“I said, ‘You have snow in Latvia,’ and he said, ‘But not like this!’ ”
The boys have taken their first Western New York winter in stride.
“This is the people’s park,” said Thomas Herrera-Mishler, president and chief executive officer of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy, “and it’s great to see so many folks having a blast in the middle of winter.”
M&T Bank is the main sponsor of the festival, which also is sponsored by The Buffalo News, Wegmans, Buffalo Rising, Lawley Insurance and WBEN.
Herrera-Mishler called Saturday’s event a “friendraiser” to help raise public awareness about all the work being done by the Olmsted Parks Conservancy.
“This doesn’t happen by magic,” he said. “We need their financial support to do all these things we do.”