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Our amazing winters

Winnipeggers are clearly not cold-weather wimps

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TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS 
Brothers, Ethan, 12, and Graham Wild, 5, were among those helping to construct the maze out of snow blocks at Millennium Library Park.

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TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Brothers, Ethan, 12, and Graham Wild, 5, were among those helping to construct the maze out of snow blocks at Millennium Library Park.

Don't worry -- a helpful librarian will find you when the snow melts in May.

Sure, you've been to corn mazes, but can you navigate your way through -- and better yet, out of -- the amazing snow maze built this weekend in the park outside the Millennium Library?

Twists, turns, sharp corners, no-exit cul-de-sacs, the whole maze experience, except frozen.

Eight-year-old Lenny Wilson was doing just what all Australians love to do in frigid weather: He was shovelling snow into plastic boxes and packing them together hard to become -- wait for it -- another brick in the wall.

"This place is absolutely freezing! I love it," laughed Lenny, puffing clouds of breath as he shovelled snow.

"We've been outside the last three weeks, like once," said the Grade 3 student at Frontenac School.

"This is the first time he's done anything with snow," said mom Vicki Wilson, who's from Melbourne but married a guy from Winnipeg. The family moved here this past fall.

"We knew what we were getting into," she said. "This is the sort of stuff we wanted to do, this and The Forks."

The West Broadway Snoball party also brought out the hardy on Saturday for a day of winter activities.

At the library, Jordan Bain was busily packing snow into a plastic box with his hands. Alas, the two-year-old was too busy to be interviewed, but mom Natasha Reid said they'd been hard at it for 20 minutes and Jordan showed no signs of getting tired.

"I didn't know I had to bring my own shovel," Reid said. "It's not sticky snow, but their wall looks good, it's holding."

The library, the Winnipeg Arts Council and the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ are all behind the maze. They laid out the labyrinth and are hoping the walls will be at least a metre high.

"This is our first time," said Tricia Wasney, the arts council's manager for public arts programs. "We commission the artwork for the plaza -- we wanted a way for people to enjoy the artwork in winter."

Wet snow would pack better but would be heavier. Still, the bricks were quite solid.

"It is kind of surprising," Wasney said, given that, "It's the worst kind of snow to pack, it's crystally."

WAC manager for artists projects Tamara Biebrich pointed out there was a warming tent and there were lots of activities inside the library.

"We've had 150 people so far," she said around noon.

The arts council began planning the snow maze back in September, Biebrich recalled. "We were so, 'What do we do if there's no snow?' " she said.

Not a problem.

Meanwhile, RAW:almond chef Mandel Hitzer bedded down next to his pop-up restaurant on the ice at The Forks. He's doing it as a fundraiser to support three community organizations he holds dear: Boys and Girls Clubs of Winnipeg, FortWhyte Alive and the Resource Centre for Manitobans who are Deaf-Blind. You can go down and show your support until Feb. 13.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 2, 2014 A6

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