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Inaugural sled building party a hit

Matt DeYoung • Jan 27, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Building a cardboard sled — one expected to bomb its way down the hill at Grand Haven’s Ski Bowl and survive the journey — is uncharted territory for the Spengler family. 

But that didn’t stop Paul and Victoria and their 9-year-old daughter, Kairi, from attending Friday night’s Winterfest Cardboard Sled Building event at Mary A. White Elementary School. 

“This is our first time,” said Paul. 

“We’ve only lived here about a year, and we were looking for something to do,” added Victoria. 

As for their expectations of their sled — which Kairi will pilot down the hill — it’s “just have fun,” Paul said. 

The Spenglers were among more than a dozen families packing into Mary A. White’s gymnasium, and spilling out into the hallway, during the sled-building event. 

Organizers Alex Harsay and Beth Ingall are both S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) teachers for Grand Haven Area Public Schools. They admitted that they had no idea what kind of a turnout to expect, and they were thrilled by the number of families who attended the first-year event. 

“On social media, more than 400 people said they were interested, but we really had no idea how many people would actually show up,” Ingall said. 

“This is awesome,” Harsay added. “Beth had this idea last year, and we talked about how S.T.E.M. might fit in with this. We talked with (Winterfest organizer) Kevin (Galbavi) and figured this was a good way to pull the schools and the community together.”

The community rallied around the event. Klever Innovations donated child-safe cardboard cutters, while izzy+ donated the cardboard. Sled builders had their choice from dozens of colors and patterns of duct tape. 

“The community support has been amazing,” Ingall said. 

Most families attending the event came in with very little or no sled-building experience. 

“I’ve always wanted to build one,” said Dave Snyder, who was helping his son, Carter, and a few friends build a sled. “We always go and watch.” 

Today’s Cardboard Sled Race begins at 11 a.m. at the Ski Bowl. Registration begins an hour earlier and judging is at 10:30 a.m.

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