Organized by the parks commission and Newburyport Youth Services, the carnival is sponsored by the Institution for Savings and will run Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free horse-drawn hayrides courtesy of Scott Colby will also circle the pond, while local radio station WNBP will provide winter music. Free hot cocoa and cookies will be available for kids of all ages.
“I’ve had people lamenting the fact for two years now that the carnival was canceled,” Reid said. “The weather is cooperating, at least partially, and it is such a wonderful surprise to get out in the wintertime and realize that the parks are still there in the wintertime and still provide a wonderful place to get out and recreate and enjoy the outdoors.”
Reid said that commission members are keeping a close eye on the weather forecast, which calls for showers on Saturday. If they choose to postpone, the event will instead be held on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Keery, along with Andy Hawkes and Patty Spaulding, was part of the committee that created the first carnival in 2005 in an attempt to pump some life into the mall during the coldest time of the year.
“We didn’t want it to be really commercial in any way,” Keery said of that carnival, which took place directly after a 2-foot snowstorm. “We wanted it to be completely for Newburyport folks to come out and just get out of the house in the middle of winter and enjoy kind of a day out on the pond.”
“Most people are residents,” Reid said. “But some people do come in from out of town. It is, from my experience, a tremendous community-building event in Newburyport.”
The popularity of the carnival has ebbed and flowed along with the weather, but this year’s chill should give the mall and the skating club a chance to shine once again.