February 9, 2009
Homer revels in slush, mush
Human dog sled race big draw at annual WinterFest
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Team “Little Girls,” from left, Tess Endst-Mansilla, 7, Emilie Ponterio, 7, Vivienne Knobel, 7, and Samantha Endst-Mansilla, 5, get tripped up near the finish line Saturday at the Homer WinterFest human dog sled race.
HOMER — At the ninth annual Homer WinterFest on Saturday, a large crowd of people gathered at about 11 a.m. to watch the human dog sled race.
They cheered and laughed as contestants ran, and sometimes fell, as they pulled sled riders with ropes across a slippery, snowy track.
The competition took place on tracks carved into the snow of the Village Green.
Before the competition, Mayor Mike McDermott spoke into a megaphone, asking people to participate.
“The purpose of this event is to not kill yourself. We have a paramedic right across the street,” McDermott said.
The first team to ride was the Subway restaurant team. The manager of Subway on Route 281 and two of her employees pulled the sled, and the son of one employee, dressed in a Subway costume — a sandwich with a face — rode the sled.
The adults in the competition rode on an irregularly shaped winding track, while the young children rode on a shorter track shaped more like a circle.
One of the young groups to race was the “Little Girls” team.
Samantha Endst-Mansilla, 5, who rode on the sled for the team, described the experience as “so much fun.”
“I just had to sit down and hold on and say, Wee!” Endst-Mansilla said.
The “Little Girls” finished in second place for their division, with a time of 25 seconds. A team called “Monkeys” finished first in the children’s division with a time of 19.5 seconds.
“Cool Runnings,” a group of juniors at Homer High School, won the competition for the adult division for the fourth straight year, with a time of 25 seconds. Luke Pedersen, 17, Aaron Darr, 17, Zandrew Zimmerman, 17, and Zerek Zimmerman, 15, pulled the sled, while Jenelle Pederson, 15, rode the sled.
They ran in two heats, and Darr fell once each time, but both times he stood and found his balance, and they all kept running. After the competition, the members of “Cool Runnings” said they are looking for challengers to face them in next year’s Homer WinterFest.
“We need competition,” Zerek Zimmerman said.
“We probably won’t come back from college (to participate in the competition) Pedersen said. “We might retire after next year.”
Other festivities took place throughout the village of Homer, including a snow sculpting competition, a chili cookoff, a book sale at Phillips Free Library and free ice skating on the Village Green.
Shannon Riehlman and Tom Coffin, Homer residents, brought their son Brady Coffin, 2, to his first Saturday at Homer WinterFest.
On Friday night, Brady’s father brought him to see the fireworks and bonfire, which marked the start of the celebration.
Brady was playing on a mound of snow with some other local children near the sidewalk next to Main Street, as they waited for the parade to start.
“He likes firetrucks, Riehlman said. “He loves being outside in the winter.”
Soon, four members of the American Legion marched down Main Street carrying rifles and hoisting an American flag and an American Legion flag.
A person in a snowman costume and another in a rabbit costume followed, carrying baskets full of candy. Firetrucks, snow plow trucks and an old red convertible sports car rolled along the street, as passengers in the vehicles tossed candy and gum to children standing beside the road.
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