When was the first Groundhog Day?

philOn February 2, 1887, Groundhog Day was celebrated for the first time in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Tradition is, if the groundhog sees his shadow, there’s six more weeks of winter; if not, it means an early spring. But where did the idea of Groundhog Day come from? It came about when clergy blessed and distributed candles for winter, a Christian tradition called Candlemas Day. The candles represented how long winter would be. Then the Germans chose the hedgehog as a weather predictor. When the Germans immigrated to Pennsylvania, they brought their tradition with them. Since groundhogs were plentiful in Pennsylvania, they became the new mascot. Then in 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a local groundhog hunters club, declared Phil, the Punxsutawney groundhog, as America’s weather forecaster.

For more information about Phil and Groundhog Day, visit the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club website.

When was the snowboard invented?

History of the Snowboard

old-snowboardsIn 1939, Vern Wicklund, at the age of 13, fashioned a shred deck in Cloquet, Minnesota. This modified sled was dubbed a “bunker” by Vern and his friends. He, along with relatives Harvey and Gunnar Burgeson, patented the very first snowboard twenty two years later.

However, a man by the name of Sherman Poppen, from Muskegon, MI, came up with what most consider the first “snowboard” in 1965 and was called the Snurfer (a blend of “snow” and “surfer”) who sold his first 4 “snurfers” to Randall Baldwin Lee of Muskegon, MI who worked at Outdoorsman Sports Center 605 Ottawa Street in Muskegon, MI (owned by Justin and Richard Frey or Muskegon). Randy believes that Sherman took an old water ski and made it into the snurfer for his children who were bored in the winter. He added bindings to keep their boots secure. (Randy Lee October 14, 2014) The Snurfer was believed to be fairly simple and had no bindings, but this is debatable. It is widely accepted that Jake Burton Carpenter (founder of Burton Snowboards) and/or Tom Sims (founder of Sims Snowboards) invented modern snowboarding.

In 1981, a couple of Winterstick team riders went to France at the invitation of Alain Gaimard, marketing director at Les Arcs. After seeing an early film of this event, French skiers/surfers Augustin Coppey, Olivier Lehaneur, Olivier Roland and Antoine Yarmola made their first successful attempts during the winter of 1983 in France (Val Thorens), using primitive, home-made clones of the Winterstick. Starting with pure powder, skateboard-shaped wooden-boards equipped with aluminium fins, foot-straps and leashes, their technology evolved within a few years to pressed wood/fiber composite boards fitted with polyethylene soles, steel edges and modified ski boot shells. These were more suitable for the mixed conditions encountered while snowboarding mainly off-piste, but having to get back to ski lifts on packed snow. In 1985, James Bond popularized snowboarding in the movie A View to a Kill. In the scene, he escapes Soviet agents who are on skis. The snowboard he used was from the debris of a snowmobile that exploded.

By 1986, although still very much a minority sport, commercial snowboards started appearing in leading French ski resorts.

In 2008, selling snowboarding equipment was a $487 million industry. In 2008, average equipment ran about $540 including board, boots, and bindings.

*Wikipedia, Creative Commons

This Friday is National Puzzle Day!

NATIONAL PUZZLE DAY

puzzle-dayExercise your brain with a puzzle. January 29th is National Puzzle Day.

Whether it’s a crossword, jigsaw, word searches, brain teasers or Soduku, puzzles put our brains to work.

Studies have found that when we work on a jigsaw puzzle, we use both sides of the brain, and spending time daily working on puzzles improves memory, cognitive function and problem solving skills.

Word searches and crossword puzzles have the obvious benefit of increasing vocabulary and language skills.

Sudoku, a puzzle sequencing a set of numbers on a grid, exercises the brain as well. By testing memory and logical thinking, this puzzle stimulates the brain and can improve number skills.

The bottom line is, puzzles stimulate the brain, keeping it active and practicing its skills.

Wondering how the jigsaw puzzle came about?  Learn more

Places to go sledding on Long Island

red-sled

Nassau County

Bethpage State Park
Bethpage Parkway, Farmingdale
516-249-0701

This hill is located on one of the park’s famously designed golf courses, which was home to a PGA Championship golf tournament. No blow-ups or tubes allowed.

Cedar Creek Park
Merrick Road, Seaford
516-571-7472

Sledding hills are open in January and February, weather permitting.

Eisenhower State Park
1899 Hempstead Turnpike, East Meadow
516-572-0348

The appropriately named “Sled Hill” has a gentle grade and is very long and wide, making it great for kids of all ages.

Grant Park
Broadway and Sheridan Avenue, Hewlett
516-571-7821

The sledding hill here is open throughout the winter, weather permitting.

Suffolk County

Bald Hill
Near Ocean Avenue, Farmingville

Bald Hill, formerly a small skiing area, is one of the highest points on Long Island, behind Jayne’s Hill in Huntington and nearby Telescope Hill.

Heckscher State Park
Heckscher Parkway, Field 1, East Islip
631-581-2100

Hoyt Farm Town Park
200 New Highway, Commack
631-543-7804

Islip Grange Park
10 Broadway Ave., Sayville
631-472-7016

This favorite sledding spot features a gentle hill that’s great for all ages and abilities, whether your kid’s a speedster or just starting out.

All about snowflakes and how to preserve them!

FROZEN FACTS

snowflake

  • Snowflakes form when water vapor freezes around tiny bits of dust in the air. No dust, no snowflakes.
  • Scientists have identified 10 types, including graupel (granular) flakes, as well as sleet and hail. The other seven varieties are the more familiar crystal shapes.
  • No two snowflakes are alike? In the mid-1980’s, a scientist found snowflakes that were extremely similar 20,000 feet in the air above Wisconsin.
  • Snow crystals are always six-sided, because the atoms in water molecules are arranged in triangles.
  • The exact size and shape of a snowflake depend on the temperature, moisture content in the air and how much time it has to grow before hitting the ground—or your acetate sheet.

Learn a fun way to save a snowflake here!