Ice skating, hockey, food and more highlight winter festival

BROOKLINE – The weekend of Feb. 17-19 marks the return of the Brookline Winter Festival, a celebration of all of the things that make small, northern communities special this time of year.

On a cold night in January 2016, Tad Putney, Joe Kifer and Dan Molinari were working on the boards at the Brookline Ice Skating Rink and discussing dates for the Brookline PTO Family Skate Night. As they were talking, Dan mentioned what a fantastic community Brookline is and how neat it would be to eventually combine this event with other winter events.

A year later, Dan sent a text message to Tad and Joe asking if they wanted to meet to discuss ideas for a winter festival. Tad was all in and Joe said, “Let’s do something special for Brookline!”

Dan sent a message on Facebook inviting any Brookline resident to a meeting at RMMS. Two days later 15 Brookline residents showed up to ask, “How can I help?”

“Seeing all those people show up to volunteer spoke volumes about Brookline,” said Joe.

What began as a conversation between community members and a vigorous Facebook thread, quickly evolved into an enthusiastic and inspired group committed to making the 2017 Brookline Winter Festival a reality.

Events for all ages and audiences will kick off on Friday, Feb. 17 at 5 p.m., with an affordable, family style spaghetti dinner hosted by the Brookline Fire Department. From there, all are welcome to enjoy ice skating, refreshments provided by the PTO, music, a bonfire and more at Family Skate Night at the Brookline Ball Park Ice Rink.

The Brookline Congregational Church will start festivities off on Saturday, Feb. 18, with a community breakfast. From there, the schedule for Saturday is full of active, exciting events throughout town. The Brookline Icebreakers will hold their annual Poker Run (for details: brooklineicebreakers.com), and kids events and activities will be concentrated at the Brookline Ball Park. These activities will include a Brookline School District Family STEM Snowball Launch Challenge, snowshoe obstacle courses, and a 3-on-3 hockey tournament (advanced sign up requested: tadputney@hotmail.com) and more.

The committee organizing the Winter Festival worked hard to revive what was once a Brookline tradition – temporarily closing traffic on a town road for sledding. With the help of the town road agent and very gracious residents, Springvale Avenue will become a sledding hill from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday (if there is enough snow). Bring your own sled (and your friends!).

After a day of outdoor activities, the Brookline Winter Festival welcomes all adults over age 21 to attend the Snow Ball Semi Formal Dance at the Brookline Events Center from 7-11 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 19. Enjoy a night out with live music from Watt’s Up, finger foods and basket raffles to benefit Brookline’s 250th Anniversary Fund. Tickets are available at the Town Hall, The Brookline General Store, RMMS and CSDA. If you have any questions, would like to purchase tickets, or would like to donate a basket for the raffles please contact Sylvia Mansfield at slm724@aol.com or 801-4802, or Jessica Corey Royea at 620-4060. A special thanks to the Rotary Club of Hollis and Brookline for generously sponsoring this event and to the Before and After School Program for the planning of this night.

The Brookline Winter Festival continues on Sunday with the Brookline Ice Fishing Derby, which kicks off at 6 a.m. on Sunday (visit Brookline.nh.us for competition rules and registration information). Closing out the weekend will be a guided hike along the Nissitissit with Brookline Conservation Commission members, open skating and the annual Soup, Chili and Chowder Cook-off at the Brookline Events Center.

Dan shared, “This has been a team effort! The restoration of a festival in Brookline would not have been possible this year without the creativity and dedication of the following Brookline residents: Jill Ketchen, Sylvia Mansfield, James Beach, Jessica Royea, Sheryl Corey, Drew Kellner, Kevin Majeski and Tammy Salisbury. The committee would also to thank the Brookline PTO, the Lions Club and the Woman’s Club for their support with the event.”

A complete schedule of events with times and any associated costs will be posted on the Brookline NH Winter Festival Facebook page, along with a pre-order link for Brookline Winter Festival long sleeved T-shirts, printed by Local-Pro Sports Apparel. Please email BrooklineWinterFestival@gmail.com if you have questions or are interested in volunteering.