Manchester's winter wonderland

/ Saturday, April 14, 2012 /
Derryfield Park Winter Carnival showing people ski-jumping, via Manchester Historic Association.

While doing research for an upcoming post, I happened upon several old photos of Manchester's discontinued Winter Carnival. The information available on the defunct annual event is sparse, but it seems that Manchester used to hold a multi-day event celebrating winter by holding parades and transforming city parks into devoted sledding areas, luges and ski hills.

Group portrait of eight people during the Winter Carnival, on a New Hampshire Fire Insurance Company horse drawn Parade Float, via Manchester Historic Association. (1920s)
Copy photograph, view of the Snow Shoe Carnival a girl or young woman is seen being tossed in the air as a group of people gather around, via Manchester Historic Association. (ND)

Manchester started the Winter carnival in 1924 to some great success until it was discontinued at the end of the decade for unknown reasons (maybe the 1929 stock market crash). The carnival surfaced again in 1957, and by 1967 it had become the second largest in the nation, Minneapolis' and St. Paul's being the largest. The event featured a parade of 30 floats, 50 clowns and a 16 foot high animated rendition of Sir Winterhurst, the carnival's mascot. Skiing, ice fishing, hockey tournaments, sledding, snow shoeing, ice skating and snow mobile races were featured activities. The 1967 event, in particular, showcased the Parashoeing Championship, a skydive/snowshoe race that sounds like something right out of the X-Games.

The usual fanfare of music, food and games were staples of the Winter Carnival, along with the crowning of a Winter Carnival King and Queen. Beyond 1967, the carnival's fate becomes unclear, but it was eventually discontinued again. Smaller iterations have popped up over the years under the title of "Winterfest".

A medal from the 1967 Queen City Winter Carnival.

View of the 1927 Winter Carnival, via Manchester Historic Association. (1927)

As we rely less and less on the entertainment outside of our homes, it seems unfeasible that Manchester would resurrect this event again, but it's a wonderful idea that the city once regaled against the collective loathing of the cold season by transforming its parks and streets into a winter wonderland, embracing the snow and ice that garners so much disdain the rest of the year.

View of the Manchester Winter Carnival showing Textile Field Hockey. Melrose American Legion is playing against the Manchester Hockey Club which lost 1 - 0. David Leslie is one of the players on the field, via Manchester Historic Association. (1928)


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