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WinterFest on Tap This Weekend at Oglebay Park

Photo by Eric Ayres - Oglebay crew members Phillip White and Zach Herink, from left, set up snow-making machines on the ski slopes at the park, putting down a fresh layer of powder in preparation for this weekend’s many festivities for the third-annual WinterFest.

With a seemingly relentless barrage of snow in recent weeks, winter in the Ohio Valley is in full swing. This weekend Oglebay is setting the stage to celebrate all great things the cold and frosty season brings.

Oglebay’s third annual WinterFest brings together special events — along with winter activities that are park favorites — throughout the weekend with frosty fun for visitors of all ages. Oglebay Park’s popular Festival of Lights has wrapped up, but by no means has the plug been pulled on the many other attractions that make the sprawling park a winter wonderland this time of year — especially when the picturesque rolling hills are covered in a blanket of snow.

And for those daring enough — or crazy enough — to take part in it, one of the featured highlights for the WinterFest weekend will be the annual Polar Plunge into Shenk Lake — a special fundraising event with proceeds benefiting the Special Olympics of West Virginia. (At last check, the forecast for Wheeling on Saturday called for a balmy high of 19 — so a need may arise once again to break some surface ice on the lake before the event.)

On Friday, there will be skiing and snowboarding at Oglebay’s Winter Sports complex, weather permitting. Despite the healthy amount of recent snows, crews were keeping a fresh layer of powder on the slopes this week in preparation for the weekend of wintry activities. If weather cooperates as expected, the slopes will be open from 4-9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

The Good Zoo will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, and there will be ice skating available at the Wheeling Park Ice Skating Rink from 7:30-10 p.m. Friday and from 1-3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Special activities Friday night include family game night with a round of “Name That Tune” in Wilson Lodge’s Hickman Lounge, followed by a free movie night with Warren Miller’s “Timeless,” a documentary that explores the excitement of winter sports, featuring athletes from around the globe. Both events are free of charge and open to the public.

On Saturday, registration for the Polar Plunge begins at 11:30 a.m. at Shenk Lake. A costume contest for Polar Plunge participants will take place at 12:45 p.m. with prizes awarded for the most creative individual and group costumes. The Polar Plunge begins at 1 p.m. Food truck concessions will be available at the site for participants and onlookers.

Oglebay’s Polar Plunge in Wheeling is the first of five “Freezin’ for a Reason” events taking place this winter in communities around the state benefiting the Special Olympics of West Virginia. Other Polar Plunge events are scheduled to take place in Hurricane, Parkersburg, Morgantown and Ripley this winter, and proceeds raised during these events go to help provide year-round sports training and competitions for thousands of West Virginia athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Participants in the plunge are encouraged to fundraise among their family, friends and coworkers prior to the event, and a donation of at least $50 per person is required to participate in the plunge. All plungers are required to sign a release prior to the event. Diving is not permitted, but eye-popping belly smackers are highly encouraged.

The dress code ranges from traditional bathing suits to crazy individual and group costumes. Participants should have a towel and change of dry clothes to put on immediately following the plunge.

For more information on the Polar Plunge, visit Oglebay’s website at oglebay.com or the Special Olympics of West Virginia website at sowv.org.

In addition to the icy dip in Shenk Lake, the other marquee event for the special weekend is the WinterFest Party from 8-11 p.m. Saturday in Oglebay’s Pine Room, featuring live entertainment with high-energy Pittsburgh-area party band, Jukebox. The concert is free of charge and open to the public.

Special overnight packages are available for Wilson Lodge, where guests will be able to enjoy the indoor pool and sauna, along with the other park amenities. A Mountaineer Breakfast Buffet will be available in the Ihlenfeld Dining Room.

For more information on Oglebay’s third annual WinterFest celebration, visit oglebay.com.

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