Despite the postponement of the Wawasee Snowmobile Drags and ice fishing contest to Saturday, Feb. 11, the 2017 Wawasee Winter Carnival soldiered forward Saturday, Jan. 28.
Kiwanis Soup Supper
The carnival was preceded by the eighth annual Kiwanis Soup Supper Friday at the Syracuse Community Center.
The event drew close to 300 patrons who voted for their favorites among the 19 homemade soups.
Proceeds from the supper will go to several local youth related community projects. Proceeds from the 50/50 raffle will be donated to Riley Children’s Hospital.
Winter Warm Up 5K Race
More than 30 hardy souls took off at 8 a.m. amidst subfreezing temperatures and blustery winds from the Schrock Athletic Complex.
The event was sponsored for the first time by the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails, who will receive the proceeds from registration.
Biscuits And Gravy Breakfast
For the second year, Grace Lutheran Church hosted a biscuits and gravy breakfast to raise money for Teen Parents Succeeding.
All expenses for the breakfast were paid through an action grant from Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit financial services organization.
Kryste Wallen, executive director of TPS, said, “It’s wonderful to have the community’s support. Events like this help fund our mission.”
Sled Dog Demonstrations
Several teams of huskies and other sled dogs took to Main Street at noon to demonstrate sled pulling. Because of the lack of snow, the teams pulled wheeled carts.
The demonstrations were hosted by Lakeland Youth Center.
Two ice carvers collaborated to produce five ice sculptures dotted along downtown Main Street.
Carver Ryan Frauhiger of Bluffton works as a chainsaw artist.
“I just apply the chain saw principles,” he said. “The only differences are the medium and the temperature.”
The other ice carver, Patrick Hunsley, provided the 300-pound ice blocks.
“We were commissioned by the festival,” said Hunsley, who has ice carved for about three years.
The final and best attended Saturday event was the “Freezin’ For a Reason” polar plunge from the beach of Oakwood Resort, a fundraiser for Boomerang Backpacks for Wawasee schools.
Nine intrepid divers took the plunge, monitored by two wetsuit-clad members of the Kosciusko County Sheriff Department’s dive team.
Members of the Wawasee Middle School chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes served hot chocolate for the participants and crowd.
Two trios of participants appeared in playful regalia. The Brewmeisters wore lederhosen and the Three Cold Amigos sported sombreros and serapes.
“It’s a way of supporting the Syracuse community,” said Carl Flickinger of the Brewmeisters. “This is an activity in the wintertime that needs to be supported.”
The Three Cold Amigos — David Ganz; Cory Kuhl; and his wife, Ashlee — all graduated from Wawasee High School.
This year’s plunge was the first for all of them.
The trio entered into a “group suicide pact” beforehand to “go all in,” completely submerging themselves in the 34-degree water.
“We all drank the Kool-Aid,” said Ashlee.
Andy Cripe of Syracuse dove alone. His wife, Susan, is co-coordinator of the backpack program.
When asked why he did it, Andy said, “My wife told me to, and it’s a good cause — in that order.”
“We had a wonderful turnout” of spectators, said Susan. “It was nice to see the faces there, just to raise awareness of the (back