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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Let it snow!

Misawa is gearing up for its biggest winter festival to date Monday, but organizers are hoping for a deeper snowpack.

“It would help to have more snow,” said Outdoor Recreation Manager Jill Rector.

Old-timers say Misawa is experiencing a mild winter thus far with snowpack on base barely above ankle level. As of Tuesday afternoon, Misawa had received 41 inches this winter; the average snowfall from November through the end of January is 67 inches, according to Misawa Air Force weather forecasters, who predict the area could receive another 3 to 6 inches of snow before the end of the week.

Officials said they’ll decide Friday whether to cancel the festival because of lack of snow.

Otherwise, Family Winterfest 2004 will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday at the Land Memorial Ski Lodge.

The 35th Services Squadron is sponsoring the winter festival “to combat cabin fever,” Rector said. Outdoor Recreation held it on a smaller scale for the last two years.

One of this year’s top draws is the homemade sled race for two- to three-person teams. Sleds can be made only of cardboard, tape, glue, string and paint.

“Cardboard can go all the way down to paper,” Rector said, noting cardboard mailing tubes are OK. “The string can be rope.”

At 11 a.m., sleds will be judged for creativity, and at 1 p.m., teams will compete for the fastest homemade sled.

Other events include:

10:30 a.m.: Snowshoe clinic, snow-fort building contest, children’s karaoke, and “snow family” building contest.11 a.m.: Uphill snowshoe competition by squadron.12:30 p.m.: Snow snake contest and children’s sled races.1:30 p.m.: Commander’s saucer sled race.The ski lodge opens at 10 a.m. Kids’ ice fishing and a snowball- through-the-hole contest take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event is free; registration is required. Food will be provided and prizes given away.

Parking is available in the supply parking lot, located before the turnoff to Security Hill; a bus will run continuously between the lodge and parking area.

For more information, call Outdoor Recreation at 226-9378. Ask for Alice, Jill or Ron.

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