Writer, Church leader, Eccentric Nut, Marketer

I'm Church Leader, Writer, Speaker, Marketer, Kindness Project Founder, Broadcaster and Superhero. But most important I'm a Husband, Father and a worshiper of Jesus.

24 February 2015

The Story of the Coldest Frosty Fest Ever

When you run large events, you can get lost inside “The Numbers.” You refresh web pages 5 times a day to see where ticket numbers are. You buy food based on white-knuckled estimates of the numbers you’re expecting. You crunch the numbers at the end of each day to see if you’ll still have enough “numbers” to carry on. Those inside the event-planning world know that “the number” of people at your event can mean everything… if you lose perspective.

 On average, 15,000 people come to Frosty Fest. It’s become one of the largest winter carnivals in Ontario. This year’s Frosty Fest was the most successful festival we’ve ever run in NEARLY every way. It had the most volunteers. It had the most sponsorship. It was the most activity and entertainment filled. It was successful in every way… except “the numbers.” One it particular. -40 degrees. That’s what it felt like outside for much of the Family Day Weekend. In fact all three days were the coldest 3 days Frosty Fest has ever had. On the Sunday, the midway rides froze in place and the ice carvers said that the weather was too cold… for ice. If it’s too cold for ice, it’s too cold for humans. And “the numbers” turned on us. The only people to be found on Dalhousie Street Sunday were our shivering volunteers tagging each other off every 10 minutes. 15,000 people did NOT come to Frosty Fest this year.

Thankfully “the numbers” do not tell the whole story of an event. Frosty Fest has never been about creating a massive winter carnival. It’s always been about serving the city, inspiring others to serve, bringing families together, facilitating personal growth and seeing city transformation. And it did just that again.

 Frosty Fest preparation is a year-round process with 6 months of full attention, 2 months of intense focus, culminating in 100 volunteers giving 2000 volunteer-hours over 3 days. All 2000 of those hours were done with smiles, laughter and the assurance that what was being done, was being done to show love to real people. Frosty Fest is about something more. This year featured the inspiring participation of Gerry Byrne’s team at Thorpe Brothers Funeral Home. Along with other sponsors like Campbell Amusements (whose valiant workers braved the cold along with the team), and Ferraro (who made sure there were Kinder Eggs in every hand), Thorpe Brothers not only sponsored the annual snow slide… but they brought their staff along to help families down the hill!

The best story was undoubtedly the Princess Party that almost wasn’t. We had advertised a Sunday Morning Princess Party to every school kid in Brantford. But in the bitter weather, our Princess who dwells in the magical land of Sarnia got stuck behind a closed Highway 402. The thought of 200 crying little princesses was too crushing to not act; and act quickly since the party began in an hour in a half. As luck (if you believe in that type of thing) would have it, a costume-maker named Sina Ahmadi was a vendor in our winter bazaar. He just “happened” to have full Beauty and the Beast costumes right there for us to use. “Lucky” eh? But the kids were expecting Princess Elsa from Frozen. Well as “luck” would have it, his connection at Amy and friends Entertainment had us a full Elsa costume in 20 minutes that “luckily” fit a Freedom House music teacher who “luckily” knew every Frozen song off by heart. As “luck” would have it, it was her childhood dream to one day be a Princess. And what a Princess she was. You’d have never known that we pulled it all together in a hour. I teared up seeing our team in action, partnering with something that was WAY bigger than luck.

There is one young man whom I refer to as Frosty Fest’s biggest fan. His name is Alex Magee and he’s 6 years old. Since he was a wee little guy, his Dad Kevin has been bringing him and he quite literally looks forward to this all year round. Their family was sick over the Family Day Weekend and it would have been easy for Kevin to say, “I just can’t do it son.” But they didn’t. They braved the wilds and forged into the wintery downtown. After Frosty Fest was over, Kevin wrote this inspirational statement that fueled the fires for the brave 100 soldiers of kindness who pressed on.

 "Years ago we went to see HMS Pinafore at the Sanderson Centre. The sets and props didn't make it but the actors did. The theatre offered anyone's money back who wanted it, but the actors decided the show must go on and improvised everything including the Admiral who wore an Admiral Sub hat throughout the entire show. I've probably seen hundreds of plays but this one will always stand out for me because of how much effort, skill and class they put into that single show. That's exactly how I'll remember this Frosty Fest. Well done to everyone who played a part in Frosty Fest this year and for ensuring that the show went on for all of the families (like mine) that enjoy it so much!" 

Rabbi Kotzker Rebbe once said,

“When it is gets cold outside one has two options, put on a coat or build a fire. Put on a coat and you will be warm, build a fire and you will warm many others along with you." 

That’s what happened at Frosty Fest 2015. It was the oddest one we’ve ever done, but I believe to those involved, it will always hold a special place in our hearts. Numbers truly are not everything. We’ll see you next year. It’s gotta be warmer right?

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