QUEBEC CITY — I first learned of Carnaval de Québec in Grade 4 French class and fell instantly in love with Bonhomme, the symbol of what bills itself as the world’s largest winter carnival.
I knew I one day wanted to meet the 7-foot tall replica of a snowman who has been the carnival’s ambassador since its start in 1955 and who visits all its activities.
But I had no idea that during my first Carnaval last year I would be wearing a swimsuit in freezing temperatures, about —-20C to be precise, and dancing with Bonhomme on a snow-covered hill in front of an audience.
What else is there to do when one is offered a winter challenge but accept it? When a snow bath was suggested, I didn’t hesitate. I really didn’t know what I was getting into, but that’s part of the fun.
Wearing a swimsuit, winter boots and toque, I joined the group of 50-plus people in a trailer. Forty-five minutes of zumba got us working up a sweat and fogging up the windows.
When I was ready to pass out from the heat, it was finally time to head outside.
Not understanding the French instructions, I followed those with matching wristbands out the door and off to centre stage to dance, laugh and roll around in the snow in front of hundreds of (clothed) onlookers.
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