NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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February 7, 2013

Blizzard cancellations announced

The approaching blizzard has prompted the cancellation and postponement of local events planned for this weekend.

Newburyport Winter Carnival at Bartlet Mall on Saturday has been canceled. Organizers say should the storm produce the amount of snow expected, the city's streets will need to be kept clear of cars so the Department of Public Services can clear snow and maintain access for emergency vehicles. They say holding an event at the Bartlet Mall would pose unsafe conditions for event-goers and work crews alike. Organizers have not been successful in finding a suitable postponement date due to scheduling conflicts and the limited availability of DPS crews, who could be tied up all weekend with storm cleanup work.

The city Parks Commission, however, is encouraging residents to enjoy the Bartlet Mall as soon as conditions clear and it is safe to do so. And Newburyport Youth Services has volunteered to help with a skate night or two before the season is out that will feature hot cocoa provided by the Instiution for Savings and potentially other Winter Carnival sponsors. Dates will be announced.

Merrimack River Eagle Festival has been canceled. While organizers had hoped to still hold the annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival in some format, as forecasts grew worse yesterday morning, they decided to cancel the entire festival for this year.

"It just doesn't make sense, we want everyone to be safe," said Melissa Vokey, a manager at Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center.  The festival is hosted each year by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

As the two organizations look ahead to next year's festival - already set for Feb. 8, 2014, Vokey said people hoping to still spy an eagle this winter can always call Joppa Flats and get tips for good vantage points, or attend of one their eagle tours or programs. Many of the Eagle Festival "hot spots" are open to the public all year, she added.

"They can always call us and get advice on how to get out and see eagles," Vokey said.

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