Triangle communities kick off holiday season

Triangle kicks off season with temperatures in 60s

ablythe@newsobserver.comDecember 1, 2012 

December arrived Saturday with its promise of a string of holidays – Hanukkah, the winter solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve.

As thousands turned out for winter festivals across the Triangle to start the holiday celebrations, there was one notable no-show.

Old Man Winter was nowhere to be found.

Winter, just three weeks away, did not even blow a cool kiss of the season to come for the crowds that flocked to Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh and Durham’s Central Park.

Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures, Brian Turner of Snow My Yard was able to create a wintry wonderland. As the young and old pulled off sweaters and outer layers, he infused ordinary ice with bellows of air and produced what Mother Nature and Old Man Winter would not while temperatures climbed into the mid 60s.

With Turner’s help, man-made snow blanketed select sections of Durham and Raleigh. In the back of a truck, he spun three tons of ice into snow for Raleigh and 10 tons of ice for Durham’s wintry mix.

Sledding hills, snow yards and Raleigh’s outdoor ice rink became big draws at the festivals.

It was difficult to tell who had the bigger smile – father Reyman Pejera or his 3 1/2-year-old son Logan – as the pair slid together down the Durham hill on a plastic disc that spun them around and around.

As they tumbled over at the base of the ramp into the slosh of grass below the sledding run, Logan conked his head. But he came up with a broad grin.

Kevin Ellis stood to the side of the sledding hill as his 2-year-old son Zaire watched tentatively, tucking his nose into his father’s knee when asked whether he was going to give it a try.

Watching the other children having fun was enough for them.

“Snow in 65-degree weather – you can’t beat that,” the elder Ellis said.

Summer Mullen, an 8-year-old at the Durham festival was not too keen on sledding on such a warm afternoon. “I don’t want to get wet,” the third-grader said.

But that didn’t stop her from celebrating the start of a month that promised lots of tradition and lots of time with family – her mother Felicia Mullen, her mom’s cousin Beverly Salmon and her cousin Bailey Bunch, a sixth-grader, accompanied her on Saturday.

“The best thing about this is it’s fun,” Summer said.

“It’s all about family and fun – and good food,” said Felicia Mullen.

About 20 neighbors in Durham’s Duke Park gathered in Julie-Lynn Austin and Michael Bourquin’s driveway Saturday to start a new tradition borrowed from Greensboro.

They had become enchanted with “holiday balls” draped from trees and decided to cut and mold chicken wire into spherical forms that could be wrapped with Christmas-tree lights.

They shaped and draped a display that will light up the neighborhood during the winter holidays.

And as a ferris wheel spun behind him in downtown Raleigh, and children danced with candy canes, and carolers in Santa hats and shorts and T-shirts sang about winter’s holidays, Turner, the Triangle’s snow man, stopped for a moment to reflect about his job. Skaters crowded around the outdoor ice rink while workers made new ice. Kids jumped up and down as they waited for a chance to sled down the snow-white ramp.

“It’s fun to see everybody having fun,” he said.

Staff Writer Jim Wise contributed to this report.

Blythe: 919-836-4948

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