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Bon Soo 2024 has wrapped

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Sault Ste Marie’s annual winter carnival Bon Soo wrapped up Saturday.

Sault Ste Marie’s annual Bon Soo winter carnival wrapped up Saturday. Mr. Bon Soo on the carnival's outdoor stage. (Supplied/Tourism Sault Ste. Marie)The 10-day winter festival saw a number of disruptions from Mother Nature’s unseasonably warm weather – but there were many indoor activities added to keep families busy throughout the event.

The 61st annual Bon Soo Winter Carnival went out with a splash – instead of a bang.

Almost 200 people took part in the annual polar bear plunge that took on a different format due to the lake of ice on St. Marys River – however, participants told CTV News the sensation and the chill were the same.

A participant in the Polar Bear Plunge at Bon Soo Winter Carnival right after they jumped in the water on Feb. 10/24. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)“I decided to do the back fall and honestly hit the water, time froze and I thought to myself 'shouldn't have done the back fall,'" said first-time participants Joe Tassone and Nick Armstrong.

“A bit of a shocker but it was awesome."

A participant in the Polar Bear Plunge at Bon Soo Winter Carnival after falling back into the water on Feb. 10/24. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)For the second time, the Polar Plunge partnered with Algoma University as part of its Hunger Freeze campaign.

Last year the event gathered 3,500 cans for the university’s food pantry with organizers setting out with plans to surpass that total this year and succeeding as a total of 5,000 cans were gathered by the end of the day.

"We have a lot of students here and there's a lot of people that do use the food pantry, so now more than ever I think it's absolutely important that we get as many donations as we can,” said the university’s student life coordinator Annabelle Spina.

Typically the polar bear plunge is done by jumping into a hole carved in the ice but with the lack of ice this year participants waded into the water before jumping into the shallows at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centere's docks.

The crowds outside of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre watching Bon Soo's annual Polar Bear Plunge on St. Marys River on Feb. 10/24. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)The lack of snow and ice from recent warm temperatures in the region did cancel several events – including the annual ‘bum slides.’

Carnival organizers told CTV News that with the number of activities set up that the festivities could not be ruined by Mother Nature and families were still able to make good use of their Bon Soo buttons.

The lack of snow and ice from recent warm temperatures in the region did cancel several events at the 61st annual Bon Soo Winter Carnival – but there was still plenty of fun had outdoors. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)"Even though there was a lot more pivoting than we anticipated, we started last year and we're not going to stop working on pivoting,” said Josh Ingram, the organizer of the carnival and member of the Sault tourism board.

“(We are) being smart about our weather conditions and about our demographic."

Attendee Lana Perry agreed with organizers that the was still much to enjoy.

"The button was worth it just for the opening ceremonies day, the fireworks and stuff,” she said.

“Everything else has been a bonus. Lots of cool activities – especially despite the weather they managed to pull together some cool stuff."

Weather-proof activities ensured children and families still had lots to do at the 61st annual Bon Soo Winter Carnival. (Cory Nordstrom/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Tourism Sault Ste. Marie staff and carnival organizers said with the lack of predictability in the weather they will continue to plan a variety of both indoor and outdoor events while holding out hope that next year sees more favourable winter temperatures for events.

Organizers also told CTV News that next year’s 62nd edition of the winter carnival will have a surprise edition that locals are going to love – but would not go as far to tell us what it was.

To stay up-to-date on plans for next year’s Bon Soo check their website or follow their social media page.

For more pictures from this year’s event visit CTVNorthernOntario.ca’s photo gallery.

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