Online effort saves Hartford's Winterfest


The summer heat and humidity may have returned on Thursday, but people in Hartford are already thinking about ice.

Winterfest looks like it will happen again this year after the iQuilt Partnership managed to raise $200,000 online. They had until midnight.

"They've told us some wonderful amazing stories about their memories over the last six or seven years down here in Bushnell Park, and they really want to keep it," said Jackie Mandyck, managing director, iQuilt Partnership.

An announcement took place on Thursday.

The ice skating rink at Bushnell Park is the focal point of the event. It is free for anyone to come and use, and even to rent skates.

Organizers say about half of the people who use it are from Hartford, and the other half come in from surrounding towns.

Last year, it was open for eight weeks of skating, seven days a week.

"We would love to be able to keep the rink open a little bit longer," Mandyck said. "Traditionally we've kept it open until the end of January."

Jenny Willhide of Manchester was one of the people who chipped in.

"I think it's something fun that brings people down here and i'm excited to see it come back again," she said.

Concern about Winterfest came after this year's Riverfest was cancelled this summer because of a lack of funding.

Riverfest was always a free event for anyone to attend.

More than 200 people and 18 corporations chipped in to save it.

"So much has been going on with our economy, for people that really can go out and donate and raise for something free, especially in our community, that's awesome," said Sandy Williamson in Hartford.

Mayor Luke Bronin said the city had to make some cuts because Hartford is facing a $48.5 million budget deficit.

He claimed the city could not afford to cover police and fire expenses.

"We as a city have had to make some tough cuts, it's a difficult time," he said. "And we've encouraged everyone who loves this city, everybody who's a stakeholder in this city to help step up so we can keep great things happening, and this is an example of exactly that."

The partnership raised money for Winterfest on a website known as Crowdrise.

Organizers said if they raise more than $200,000 they will extend how many weeks the rink will be open this upcoming year.

If they continue to raise money, those funds will go to the following season. Anyone looking to donate can do so here.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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