Chilly Willy brings youth together for positive fun

LAKE GEORGE For the kids, Sundays Chilly Willy event in Battlefield Park offered an opportunity for some dodge ball in the snow, some fun and frolic on a sun-filled day and a chance to hang out with friends. All that was true. But for organizer Patricia Dow, the larger-than-life snowmen who stood watch over the event were symbolic of what the event was all about. The snowmen were built by kids from Youth Court who had been assigned to help out with the event as part of their community service. Virginia Etu suggested they make some snowmen, Dow recalled. And the kids said can we do that? And we said sure! Its that kind of thing ...reaching out, offering a positive alternative for young people that doesnt involve substances. Dow said the Youth Court kids got caught up in the spirit of the event. It was touching to see how enthusiastic they got. Dow said. They had to be there. They didnt have a choice. But they were excellent and they did an amazing job. Sundays Chilly Willy event offered anyone who cared to participate games and other outdoor activities as well as food and a chance to socialize and connect in a positive manner with others in the community. It was targeted mainly at the teens of the Lake George area. The kids love the dodge ball, Dow said, because they cant play it in school. And let me tell you, theyre intense. The event was organized by Lake George Community Comes Together, a group that is an outgrowth of the Communities that Care initiative pushed by Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan. The movement encouraged communities to organize to combat teen substance abuse through education and offering positive alternatives. Similar groups have been active in other communities in Warren County including Warrensburg and Bolton. The first Chilly Willy event was held about five years ago at Sweet Cravings, Dow said. The following year it was held at the Recreation Center and the last three years its been held at Battlefield Park. As part of the event, a button is offered for sale that allows those with the button to received discounts at area business. The button project this year was carried out by four business students from Lake George High School who did all work including the design and marketing of the button. It gave them a bigger idea of what life will be like after high school, Dow said. The buttons are a way of getting people into stores and businesses during the off season. Its just another way to bring all segments of the community -- kids, adults, businesses -- together, Dow said. They come together to have a positive impact for one day, and maybe longer. Other activities organized by Lake George Community Comes Together include painting storefront windows for the holiday season in November and a project to distribute flower planters to the elderly and shut-ins in the spring. Its little things like that, Dow explained. Working with other groups in the community to make connections and do something positive. There are lots of different ways to break open the same problem. Dow said that next year, the group would like to expand its Chilly Willy offerings to include some activities for younger, elementary school-aged kids, perhaps dodge ball.

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