Community Park in Hawthorn Woods was a center of activity Saturday, the result of decent weather and the debut of the village's first Winter Carnival.
"We need to burn some energy," said Jenn Harrington, a Lake Zurich resident who obliged her kids, Lucas, 5, Danny, 7, and Ashley, 9, with a push on the swings.
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"We came for ice skating, actually. We had our skates, but we're glad to be swinging," she said.
Warm days leading up to the event scuttled ice skating on the small pond and the high wind Thursday meant one less giant inflatable could be installed.
But ice sculptor Jack Gerrard, wagon hay rides powered by two Belgian draft horses, a speed gun for timing snowball throws, a huge inflatable obstacle course, games and contests, and the finale laser light show were more than enough to keep the kids busy and the video cameras rolling.
A sunny day at near normal temperatures was the perfect scenario for village officials for the inaugural winter carnival, which is envisioned as an annual event. It was was rescheduled from its original date three weeks ago because of cold, wind and snow, which presented safety issues for participants and animals.
Beth Stowick of Palatine and her pals, including a sister from Mundelein, a friend in Hawthorn Woods and a cousin in Kildeer, planned to meet at the event. Stowick said she had put the new date on her calendar.
"It was either do this or go snowshoeing. I said, `Let's do this. They'll have a laser light show. It'll be cool,' "
Early on, the family-friendly event appeared to be reaching the intended audience, like Nathan and Kimberly Herbst and their sons, Michael, 3, and Max, 5.
"We're new to the neighborhood and heard this is the first winter carnival for this town, so we thought we would support it," said Kimberly. "Stuff for the kids was definitely the main draw."
Min Ma of Lake Zurich, his wife and four kids were among the first arrivals. He was quickly left behind as the others scurried to the obstacle course.
"It seems like a good outdoor activity. Otherwise, the kids would be playing video games," he said. "We have to get them away from that."
Candy Martin, owner of Famous Frankie's hot dog cart agreed the original date was too cold. But the sunny weather Saturday was a welcome reminder of better days to come.
"When was the last time you had a hot dog outside?" she asked.