Winter Wonderland brings holiday cheer to Bradenton families

jdeleon@bradenton.comDecember 15, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Children in Bradenton got a rare treat Saturday, sledding down a mountain of snow downtown as part of the 18th annual Winter Wonderland.

Ryley, Jadan and Sydney Bileth all loved the ride down the snow mountain.

"I got squiggly," exclaimed Ryley. "It was so awesome."

His older brother, however, had a different experience.

"I smashed my elbow," Jadan said.

Asked if he would ride again, his answer was still yes.

His sister was also up for the challenge despite the initial fear of her first trip to the top.

"It was really fun," Sydney said. "It wasn't fun at the end, I face planted the guy's arm."

Hundreds of people filled Old Main Street to visit with Santa and enjoy some live holiday tunes, but the biggest attraction was the snow sledding.

Children and their families waited in a massive line to have a turn.

Jenny Gotay was waiting at the bottom of the snow mountain for her daughter, Madison, 11, and her friends.

"They waited for almost an hour," Jenny Gotay said. "She's patient, they don't wait that long for just anything."

After Madison made her plunge, it was totally worth the wait, she said.

"Oh my god, it was amazing," Madison said. "It was really cold, though."

Chad Grosch, 7, spun around as he made his trip down.

"I want to do it again 'cause it's so much fun," Chad said.

Downtown was bustling as families enjoyed the festive activities and made their way down to the Manatee River to watch the Holiday Boat Parade. Local vendors all along Old Main Street offered their usual treats as well as holiday crafts, gifts and snacks.

Gabriel Brenn, 5, was having a blast with his mom and grandma, making sure to take in all the event had to over.

"That slide, I did it lots of times," Gabriel said, pointing to the smaller snow mountain.

Gabriel also got to make his own Christmas ornament, which he was excited about keeping. And of course, there was his visit with Santa, but he wouldn't say what he asked him for.

"Santa knows," Gabriel said. "I told him."

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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