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South Jordan Journal

Breaking the ice at Daybreak’s Winter Freeze Festival

Mar 09, 2023 10:21AM ● By Peri Kinder

Seven-year-old Rory Hundertmark (in front) took top prize in the cardboard sled contest for his model bi-plane sled, with help from his father Jason and his 4-year-old brother Aiden. (Photo courtesy of the Hundertmark family)

Daybreak’s Winter Freeze Festival continues to grow, even as the temperatures on the event day, Jan. 21, hovered in the low 30s. Organizers said the number of attendees doubled from the previous year’s event.

Austin Perez, LiveDAYBREAK Recreation Manager, said the winter festival is gaining momentum and new attractions were added to this year’s festival, including a cardboard sled contest. 

“The public loved it. People had opportunities to learn and see art and get to know winter athletes and winter sports,” he said. “We had two ice sculptors from the area carving ice sculptures. They also brought four pre-made sculptures where people could go and look at the finished product and take pictures with it.”

Held at SoDa Row (11274 Kestrel Rise Road), the Winter Freeze Festival featured bobsledder Jeremy Holm, Olympic speedskater Aaron Tran, Grizzbee from the Utah Grizzlies and Arctic Rescue, a nonprofit that fosters and adopts Huskies and Malamutes. 

“Kids were able to learn about the dogs and how the dog sleds work,” Perez said. “At the same time, Arctic Rescue was able to talk about its organization, talk about adoption and hopefully get some business.”

A local Special Olympics snowshoe team brought snowshoes so the public could try out the sport. There was also a DJ on-site, a train going down Soda Row and campfires where families could enjoy s’mores. 

Perez wanted to incorporate an activity in this year’s event to help kids learn about design and engineering. The cardboard sled contest encouraged families to create a rideable sled that was creative and functional. Kids could enter in one of two categories (12 and under or 13 and over) and the contest was such a success, Perez hopes to bring it back next year. 

“One of our things in Daybreak is about lifelong learning. We have something called Explorer’s Club where kids learn STEAM-related skills,” Perez said. “Kids built cardboard sleds and some of them were phenomenal. There was an airplane made into a cardboard sled, someone made a fighter jet, a UFO, and the Mystery Machine. They were spectacular. I was impressed. They were so creative.”

Seven-year-old Rory Hundertmark took top prize for his model bi-plane sled, with help from his parents, Jason and Andrea, and his 4-year-old brother Aiden. His grandfather owns a radiator shop and donated big cardboard boxes for the project. 

“I think the highlight for the kids was playing in the boxes before they even made the plane,” Andrea said. “It took 10 days to construct. He was so excited by the fact he actually won. It was a cute family activity.”

To warm up the event, fire dancers performed while attendees enjoyed hot chocolate, took photos with the ice sculptures and spent time with friends and neighbors. 

“We’re really happy with how it turned out. From residents, we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, so overall, it was a great time,” Perez said. “I think in Utah we often think the only thing to do in the winter is ski or snowboard. To be able to talk about more winter sports and educate them was nice. We saw an opportunity to have something in January and build upon it.”