Winterlude may be known for bringing tens of thou­sands of people to Ottawa every year, but it also gives locals a chance to find entertainment right in their own backyard.

Family Day long weekend brought thousands of locals to Winterlude’s three sites, including the Rideau Canal Skateway, Confederation Park and Jacques-Cartier Park yesterday.

“Last year was a bad time for the economy,” said Ottawa resident Jennifer Parker. “I think a lot of families are really glad for quality activities they can take their kids to easily, that the kids will actually enjoy, and that won’t break the bank.

“Children shouldn’t have to miss out because the economy was in a slump.”

Parker and her husband brought their kids to Jacques-Cartier Park yesterday, where there were snow slides and ice fishing events.

Ottawa resident Becky Draper has enjoyed skating on the canal and Beavertails during Winterlude for years, but this year was extra special – it marked the first Winterlude for her year-old son.

City resident Jim Shivas never misses Winterlude. His favourite activities include skating on the canal and checking out the ice sculptures. The weather was perfect for winter fun this weekend, he said.

“As long as you can still see the stuff and go skating, that’s what matters to me,” he said. “I’d come out at -20.”

Bernadette Bailey and her daughter, Hannah, take advantage of Winterlude offerings by playing host to out-of-town friends and family every February.

While some people never miss Winterlude, other residents discovered it for the first time.

Despite having lived in Ottawa for 11 years, yesterday was Denise Moir’s first time at Winterlude.

“My daughter plays a lot of sports, so we’re usually away at this time of the year and haven’t had a chance to come down,” said Moir, who admired the ice sculptures at the Rogers Crystal Garden with her family.

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