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posted: 1/22/2010 12:01 AM

Lombard has cure for cabin fever

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  • Lombard Park District's Winter Carnival provides both inside and outside activities to help young families shake the winter doldrums.

      Lombard Park District's Winter Carnival provides both inside and outside activities to help young families shake the winter doldrums.
    Daily Herald file photo


Matt Fairbanks hasn't called Jerry Taft, hasn't e-mailed Tom Skilling, hasn't tweeted with Amy Freeze.

But if anybody's taking weather requests for Saturday, his would go something like this: A nice blanket of snow with temperatures around 35 or 40 degrees.

When you're the program manager at Lombard Park District, you find yourself spending way too much time thinking about cold fronts and precipitation levels - especially when you're preparing for the annual Winter Carnival scheduled for noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23, at the community building, 433 E. St. Charles Road.

Fairbanks says the free event typically attracts 500 to 700 people - mostly young families - for an afternoon of both inside and outside activities.

Last year's carnival seemed a little more like a Welcome to Spring party, with the temperature climbing to around 50. The result was a mixed bag: a bigger and more comfortable crowd, but no chance to play in the snow.

As always, this year's event aims to live up to its carnival billing. You can play ring toss, mini-golf or that game where you throw balls and try to knock over a bunch of cans.

Weather permitting, the district will freeze an outdoor basketball court at Community Park for ice skating and give kids a chance to make snowmen - complete with hats, scarves and giant glasses provided by carnival organizers.

Inside, kids can make crafts - gold-colored pinwheels to celebrate the district's recent national Gold Medal Award - and sip free hot chocolate.

The whole shebang ends with a 30-minute show by Chicago's Jason Kollum, a plate-spinning, stilt-walking, balloon-twisting juggler.

Kollum says he'll spend most of the afternoon wandering the area, interacting with kids and teaching them crucial life skills, such as how to spin balls and Frisbees.

That kind of approach will carry over to his show. We'd hate to give anything away, but for his finale he'll be asking some audience members to help him balance 10 wooden boxes on his face with a cup of water perched on top.

Kollum says he started juggling about 14 years ago and has been doing it pretty much full-time for several years.

So how do people react when he tells them he's a plate-spinning, stilt-walking, balloon-twisting juggler?

"They say 'that's nice,'" he says, "'but what do you do for a living?'"

Fairbanks knows what he does for a living and right now that involves keeping his fingers crossed the weather cooperates and the carnival provides a timely escape from the winter doldrums.

"It's having people come out and get out of that cabin-fever feeling," he says. "It's fun to watch them moving around and smiling."

And for that, you don't need any help from Steve Baskerville.

If you go

What: Lombard Park District's Winter Carnival

When: Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 23

Where: Lombard Community Building, 433 E. St. Charles Road

Cost: Free

Info: (630) 620-7322 or