ANDOVER – Saturday was the perfect sunny, blue-sky day for old-fashioned winter fun during the Andover Snow Valley Sno-Goers Snowmobile Club’s first Family Fun Day off South Main Street.

Held just 20 days from the onset of spring, the event featured a sliding party, bonfire, s’mores, lots of other food and activities for young and not so young.

“We couldn’t have picked a better day. It’s just awesome,” co-organizer Wendy Hutchins said an hour into the three-hour community event.

Anyone donating a nonperishable food item for the Andover Food Pantry received a free lunch. More than $200 and 60 bags of groceries were donated by early afternoon as the crowd swelled to about 150 people of all ages.

“We never dreamed it would be this big. I thought if we got 50 that would be good,” Hutchins and co-organizer Barbara Mosher agreed inside the club’s new warming hut just off snowmobile trail ITS 82.

They had to run down to Hannaford’s in Rumford to get more food for the cookout.

Hutchins, an Andover Elementary School secretary, said she dreamed up the event, at which donated goods from area businesses were also auctioned off.

“We wanted to do something fun for children since money is tight around here with the economy the way it is. This is good cheap fun. We also wanted to do something for a good cause,” she said.

After zipping down the sliding hill on a plastic sled with her 7-year-old grandson Isaiah Thibodeau, Elissa Thibodeau said the sledding was great, but a bit crowded.

One youngster came ripping down the groomed hill on a plastic sled, which went up a bank of piled snow near the end of the run and dumped him on his head and shoulders.

Brushing snow off his grinning face, he got to his knees, pumped a fist in the air and yelled, “That rocks!” as adults wearing snowmobile suits and standing at the bottom of the run laughed at the boy’s exuberance.

Back at the hut, children and adults used a small bonfire and long sticks to cook marshmallows into gooey splendor for snacks. Near the trail groomer, families participated in a snowball distance toss.

While waiting for friends and family to finish, Taylor Merrill, 9, of Andover, said she enjoyed the snowball contest.

“I liked the sliding, too, because I like crashing on the snow,” she said.

“I liked the sliding because of how fast you can go,” Katie Merrill of Andover said.

The Family Fun Day event stood out for her equally well.

“It’s pretty cool, because it’s different, and it’s a lot of fun,” she added.



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