Families, including youngsters from toddlers to teens, braved Saturday’s stormy weather to line up for their 10-minutes in the snow at American Canyon’s annual Snow Day.
Despite skies threatening and periodically delivering rain, between 600 and 800 visitors were nevertheless expected at American Canyon’s 4th annual Snow Day at Shenandoah Park, organizer and Parks and Recreation Department Director Creighton Wright said.
While it didn’t prevent the event entirely, the inclement weather did cause organizers to tweak some plans, recreation leader David Plate said, adding that the usual snow hill built over hay for sledding, was scrapped for rain-related safety reasons this year.
Some of those at Saturday’s increasingly popular holiday event came some distance to be there.
Samari Bland, 12, said she and her family drove from Sacramento.
“It’s really cool,” she said. “You don’t have to go super far to see snow, and it’s free for everyone.”
Erika Zabala of Oakland was in American Canyon for the first time Saturday, with her 5-year-old daughter Elaina and 3-year-old son Evan.
“The kids are enjoying it,” she said. “We had never heard of American Canyon before this. We saw a Facebook post about this and decided to check it out.”
American Canyon’s annual Snow Day started as a proposal five years ago from American Canyon Orthodontics’ doctor Jeff Nichelini. After about six months of discussions over the best place to bring in snow, the first event was held and was an instant hit, Wright said. It is still largely underwritten – to the tune of about $10,000 — by Nichelini’s office, as well as by other local corporate sponsors, he said.
“Dr. Nichelini wanted to host an event open to the community where he sponsored snow, especially for those that haven’t ever experienced it,” Wright said. “With the snow as the main attraction, we have sprinkled in other activities to accentuate the event. Dr. Nichelini’s infectious holiday spirit, generous donation and ongoing support of Snow Day has made it possible, and allowed us to provide this wonderful winter-time event that has become a signature facet of our community.”
In years that the weather has been more cooperative, as in year one, some 2,000 people showed up, “overwhelming” organizers, Wright said.
“We heard of people traveling from many of the surrounding communities, including Hercules, Benicia, Vallejo, Fairfield and Napa,” he said. In the years since, depending on the weather, attendance can be 1,500 or more.
“As more communities have begun to offer similar events, the draw has been a bit more localized to American Canyon, Vallejo and Napa,” Wright said.
“Scrambling” to reconfigure the event for a rainy day, organizers removed one planned snow area and replaced it with other activities, including a train ride, bungee jumping and a cyclone swing; the latter two replacing last year’s 40-foot–tall giant slide, based on participant interviews, he said.
Laura Gallmeyer of Vallejo, who attended the event for the first time Saturday with her son Erik, 9, and daughter Elise, 3, seemed to appreciate the effort.
“(Erik) looks happy on the bungee jump, and I’m really surprised it’s all free,” Gallmeyer said. “We belong to the Boy Scouts up here, and we came for the snow and to help out with the Boy Scout booth.”
Fellow Vallejo resident Micaela Segura, whose first time at the event was also Saturday, was there with her three children, ages 9, 7 and 3.
“It’s great,” she said as she and her brood waited in line for their turn in the snow area. “I hope it doesn’t start raining again.”