Wilton's first winter carnival draws a big crowd

Bryan Haeffele photos

They came to ride in a horse and carriage, toast marshmallows, go on a scavenger hunt, eat some chili, and fly over the earth.

Wilton Center hummed as the inaugural Wilton Winter Carnival transformed Center Street and Old Ridgefield Road from Portofino to Schenck’s Island into a flurry of activity.

People watched as Bill Covitz of Ice Matters took his chainsaw to a block of ice and about an hour or so later transformed it into a sparkling seahorse.

Families lined up to ride in an old-fashioned carriage pulled by a team of furry Norwegian Fjord ponies.

They set off around town to collect clues in the scavenger hunt and the hungry visited six restaurants and food trucks to sample their chili, voting for their favorite at the end of their journey. Samples were supplied by Craft 14, Chef Jeff’s BBQ, Wilton Pizza & Pasta, Marly’s, Portofino, and Little Pub.

Those looking for some indoor activity found it at Wilton Library where they could fly along Google Earth on a virtual reality adventure or take photos in winter wonderlands courtesy of a green screen. There were also snowflakes to be decorated and strung along the library’s walls.

Those who made their way down to Schenck’s Island, saying hello to Olaf and penguin characters along the way, were rewarded with hot chocolate and a marshmallow roast.

Face painting, tee-ball, beer tasting, and more food vendors were among the other activities.

The carnival was presented by the Wilton Chamber of Commerce, with title sponsor Fairfield County Bank.